Jacob Schmitz’s journey with help from ex-St. John’s teammate Ben Bartch

Cokato native Jacob Schmitz is the toughest football player his St. John’s teammates have ever met.

KSTP sports director Joe Schmit featured Schmitz’s courageous battle against Mokri syndrome, which was caused by an injury to his brain following heart surgery.

***Click the video box above to watch the 5-Eyewitness News story about Schmitz***

A 2019 high school graduate, Schmitz was a star football player and wrestler at Dassel-Cokato, then moved on to play linebacker at St. John’s.

Schmitz underwent emergency heart surgery June 2020 after being airlifted to Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park following the discovery of an aortic dissection.

Schmitz has physical limitations, but can communicate thanks to technology. His parents, other family members, friends, doctors, nurses, and a former teammate have all done a lot to improve Schmitz’s life. That former teammate is current Jacksonville Jaguars starting offensive lineman Ben Bartch.

A regular at the Johnnies games, we saw Schmitz cheering on his teammates in last weekend’s MIAC Championship game win over Bethel.