ORANGE CITY, Iowa | For most college football players the summer is a time to work in the weight room, hone their skills on the field and spend time with their teammates to lay the foundation for fall success.
Northwestern third-year starting quarterback Davis Bloemendaal did all those things and earned all-conference accolades because of the hard work he has put in the previous two seasons as the team's signal-caller. However, there is another title that the senior is after that may speak more about him then anything he has accomplished on the field.
Davis Bloemendaal, M.D.
The former MOC-Floyd Valley standout is a pre-med major who found time during his busy summer to take the MCAT. So with medical school on the horizon -- he is hoping to continue his studies at the University of Iowa -- he has plans to lift his team to new levels of success during his tenure as QB before he trades his Raider red jersey for a white coat.
After long hours of study in his field of choice one would think the football playbook would come quite easy.
"I feel like I pick it up pretty good, but there are still some things that I can iron out a little bit," he said.
But now he is the unquestioned leader of the team even if a rah-rah speech isn't his forte.
"I have always led more by example than by words," he said. "My mom always used to ask me how school went and I wouldn't say a lot, but I just do what needs to be done."
Bloemendaal led the Red Raiders to the playoffs for the first time in six seasons a year ago only to fall to eventual national champion Marian (Ind.) 42-32. It was a tough loss in the opening round on the road, but preparation for this season began before the field was cleared in Indiana.
"(Bloemendaal) came up to me before we left the field and all he said was 'next year is another step, take another step," Red Raiders Coach Kyle Achterhoff said. "It was a lot of offseason team building but also getting in the weight room, and what was impressive about Davis is he was there for every workout and most of our spring ball practices while being an all-conference baseball player."
"He is a playmaker who just knows how to win games," Achterhoff said. "He has always been a confident player ... and it is not the confidence that comes with talking a lot, it is the quiet confidence of being able to make plays when you need them."
This season the Red Raiders will rely on Bloemendaal's arm to take some pressure of a running game that had two 1,000-yard rushers a season ago in Brandon Smith and Theo Bartman. Bartman returns, but Bloemendal is more than ready to do even more work through the air.
"I have been move vocal even this year and that is more my role now that we don't have those senior leaders that are more vocal leaders," Bloemendaal said. "I also just feel more comfortable with the offense and every play I know what everyone is doing."
Bloemendaal, who Achterhoff said put on five to seven pounds of muscle in the offseason and is more accurate than ever, sits 10th on the school's all-time list for passing yards at 4,189 and has racked up 40 touchdowns through the air.
However, the chance to leave his name high up in the record books at Northwestern came as news to him.
"I have never really thought about it but some people after the season told me that 'oh, you are kind of up there,' and I looked at it and it was ‘OK I kind of am,’" he said. "I have never really thought about it (record book), especially in season."
He will get his chance to improve on those numbers this season.
"He wants to sling it around a little bit and he has got some weapons to throw it to with (wide receiver) Brice Byker being back but also having Ben Green back -- he looks tremendous -- and we are going to look a little different because we will rely on some two-tight end sets," Achterhoff said.
Bloemendaal has had some success with former Raider basketball players taking a turn on the gridiron with Jacey Hoegh playing tight end a season ago as a junior and adding Levi Ettleman this season.
"It started a couple of years ago with Eli Groenendyk coming off the basketball team, then last year we had Jacey Hoegh and he is here again this year, and this year we got Levi Ettleman, who was an all-stater at Logan-Magnolia," Bloemendaal said.
Bloemendaal is entering his third year as the starter behind center for the Red Raiders, and despite impressive numbers that included 2,213 yards last season -- the second most years in a season since 1998 -- it wasn’t the arm that initially drew Achterhoff to the quarterback.
"It wasn't like he threw the ball all over the place in high school, it's not like MOC-(Floyd Valley) is that type of football team," he said. "But it was everything else that you saw from Davis. It was his consistency, his calmness and kind of that little bit of swag on the football field. Then you saw the same thing on the basketball court and the same thing on the baseball field."
Bloemendaal was an all-GPAC first-team outfielder after hitting .384 last season for the Red Raider baseball team.
"Just keeping the competitive spirit all year long ... is just something that really helps me out," he said of playing baseball for the Raiders.
Bloemendaal will take that competitive fire to the field for Northwestern -- the lone school he applied to during his senior year of high school -- and look to cap an impressive run.
"We have tasted that first round and we want to get farther," he said. "We know we are right there and we just have to take to take that next step, get over the hump."