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Athletics

SJU football video crew working with NFL

The Saint John’s University football team’s coaching staff has long known the quality of the work the Johnnies football video crew provides.

But it appears others are now catching on as well.

The crew won the 2019 video staff of the year award at the NCAA Division III level presented by the Dub Center at NFL Films – thanks, in part, to the additional exposure that was provided by the interest of NFL scouts in offensive tackle Ben Bartch leading up to the 2020 NFL Draft (Bartch was selected in the fourth round by the Jacksonville Jaguars).

“It’s feedback from NFL general managers and scouts that decide that award,” said Chad Ostlund, a consultant for the football program who advises head coach Gary Fasching and rest of the coaching staff on technology-related matters, including the video crew.  

“It’s determined by excellent filming, and most importantly by not missing plays and following an NFL standard of film excellence.”

In other words, it was a prestigious honor.

And it, in turn, led to the crew being selected to handle filming for the practices leading to the NFLBA Bowl (one of three major collegiate all-star games featuring many of the top prospects in this year’s draft), which was played at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California on Jan. 29 and broadcast on NFL Network

Ostlund and his crew of senior Matthew Holderness and freshmen Anthony Gruidl and Collin Glynn were on hand in the week leading up to the game, filming practices from multiple angles.

That included video of the one-on-one period (offensive line vs. defensive line, wide receiver vs. defensive back, running back vs. linebacker), 7-on-7, inside run (9-on-7), special teams and full team (11-on-11).

Ostlund said the video will also be used by pro scouts, who had access to it within minutes of a practice being completed, just like the coaching staff does at SJU.

“We were doing almost exactly what we do when we film practice at Saint John’s,” Glynn said. “I was up top filming from the booth, Anthony was in the end zone and Matt was down on the field.

“It was a really fun experience to be part of, and I think it shows that we do a pretty good job with the work we produce. I know all three of us are grateful that we get to be around a nationally-recognized football program with such a rich history.”

Gruidl said having the chance to work in a venue as historic as the Rose Bowl was exciting.

“I was by myself filming in the end zone and I would just look around at the place and be amazed,” he said. “It’s funny. My Dad is really into the Rose Bowl and the history of the place. So I didn’t tell him I was going out there. I waited to FaceTime him when I was in the stadium, then I turned the phone around to show him where I was.

“He was blown away.”

While there, the crew got a chance to meet a number of famous faces – including former NFL head coaches Marvin Lewis and Jeff Fisher who led the National and American teams respectively, and whose staffs used the practice film the crew compiled each day.

“Technology-wise, and just when it came to the kind of drills they were running, it was sort of the same as being at Saint John’s,” Holderness said. “But the venue was obviously a lot different, and getting to work with people at the NFL level was eye-opening. I was able to talk with both Marvin Lewis and Jeff Fisher about the kind of shots they wanted to see, so that was a good learning experience.

“It showed me a lot about how things work at the NFL and Division I levels, and that it’s a career path I might like to pursue. I’m applying for some internships with the Vikings now and hopefully this experience will help with that.”

Holderness, Gruidl and Glynn all said working at a school where the bar is set high prepared them for work at the NFL level.

“We think we do a pretty good job here,” Holderness said. “I’ll put our work up against anyone else’s in the MIAC or Division III. There is a clip of (legendary former SJU head coach) John Gagliardi that we play before games (on the video scoreboard in Clemens Stadium). And in it, he talks about the importance of film when it comes to getting the team ready to play on Saturdays.

“So there’s a long history in this program of taking this kind of work seriously.”

Fasching said the video crew has been and remains vital to what his team is trying to accomplish.

“We have the best film of any team in our league, and maybe even the country,” he said. “We get comments all of the time about how professional our film is.  What Chad and his crew do is vitally important to the success of our program.”

Ostlund said the crew is looking for new members for the 2022 season. Those interested should contact SJU assistant coach Brandon Novak at [email protected].

Matthew Holderness

Anthony Gruidl

Collin Glynn