Don’t try this at home, folks. At least, that’s probably what Ben Bartch would say if you attempted to choke down his career-changing protein shake that would make Tom Brady shiver. As a Division III tight end who needed to pack on pounds to become an offensive lineman, the former St. John’s University standout stopped at nothing to achieve his goal of becoming an NFL draft pick. Only, Bartch’s homemade concoction tasted nothing like your typical Smoothie King special. Fueled by his Frankenstein-like protein shake, Ben Bartch achieved that goal by becoming a fourth-round pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2020 NFL draft.
So what exactly did he stuff into a blender all those years? Let’s just say it’s probably not something you’ll be whipping up anytime soon.
Ben Bartch began his college career as a D-III tight end
Long before Ben Bartch became an NFL draft prospect, he spent his early collegiate career as a tight end. In fact, when he enrolled at St. John’s University in Minnesota, he weighed just 220 pounds and looked more like a science fair competitor rather than an offensive lineman.
Two nondescript seasons later, he dedicated himself to becoming an offensive tackle. Of course, that required Bartch to pack on more than a few holiday party pounds. He already gained 30 from his freshman year to his sophomore season, but the jump to offensive tackle required a much more serious and scientific approach. And so, Ben Bartch’s nasty but effective protein shake was born.
Bartch’s infamous protein shake
Unlike athletes at powerhouse Division I programs, the small-school lineman didn’t have access to world-class facilities or nutritional programs. Determined to carve out a career as an offensive lineman, Bartch crafted his own unique (and unappetizing) protein shake to help him bulk up to over 300 pounds.
According to Greg Auman of The Athletic, the future NFL draft pick began his summer of bulk by waking up at 5 a.m. and using his roommate’s NutriBullet to concoct what turned out to be a highly effective weight-gaining shake.
“I would scramble seven eggs, then I had a big tub of cottage cheese, then grits, peanut butter, banana, Gatorade,” he said. “I would just throw it all in and then plug my nose. In the dark. I would gag sometimes. That’s what you have to do sometimes.”
The shake worked wonders. Bartch gained 25 pounds in one summer and became St. John’s starting left tackle. He put on another 30 before his senior year and became a legitimate NFL draft prospect despite hailing from a D-III school in Minnesota.
Jaguars selected small-school standout in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL draft
Thanks to his homemade protein shake, Ben Bartch now tips the scales at 6-foot-6, 309 pounds—a far cry from his days as a skinny tight end. Despite his small-school background, he showed well at the Senior Bowl and entered the 2020 NFL draft as one of the more interesting offensive tackle prospects. Lance Zierlein of NFL.com provided an interesting outlook on Bartch:
Converted tight end who has added 75 pounds of good weight since stepping on campus but retained his plus movement. Despite a lack of experience and small-school background, his traits and rapid growth in body and play caught the eye of Senior Bowl evaluators. From a skill standpoint, he’s still an undergrad, but on pace for his degree in tackle studies. He’s an enticing left tackle prospect who continues to evolve, but a step up in competition and a need for continued physical development will require patience and could determine whether his final calling is swing tackle or starter.
Ultimately, the Jaguars selected Ben Bartch in the fourth round on the final day of the 2020 NFL draft. Becoming an NFL draft pick was a huge accomplishment in itself. When Jacksonville took him with the 116th overall pick, Bartch became the first Division III player to get selected since Tampa Bay Buccaneers guard Ali Marpet went 61st overall in the 2015 NFL draft.
With a $3.4 million contract and access to professional trainers and nutritionists, it’s safe to say Ben Bartch won’t have to rely on the world’s nastiest protein shake anymore as he begins his Jaguars journey.