Bryan College angler Victorious in Carhartt Bassmaster Classic Bracket


Deerwood, Minn. – Just days ago, it was the duo of Jacob Foutz (SO/Charleston, Tenn.) and Jake Lee (SO/Knoxville, Tenn.) who hoisted the hardware for the Bryan College Lions Fishing Team as they were crowned the 2017 Carhartt Bassmaster National Champions, presented by Bass Pro Shops, outlasting some of the best collegiate anglers in the nation on Lake Bemidji in Bemidji, Minn. Foutz and Lee did their best to let the feeling of national champs sink in, but they knew they had their work cut out for them as they headed to Serpent Lake to test their individual skill on the water in a head-to-head matchup with the other top-3 teams from Bemidji running from Monday through Wednesday (Aug. 14-16).

Despite the Lion’s rivals from Bethel University (Tenn.) having two teams, four anglers, make it into the Classic Bracket, only one Wildcat made it to day two. Foutz bettered Bethel’s Brian Pahl, Lee retired reigning Classic Bracket Champion John Garrett of Bethel, Chico State’s (Calif.) Chad Sweitzer put an end to Bethel’s Carter McNeil, and lone Wildcat Cole Floyd downed Tyler Firebaugh of Chico State to wrap up round one.

There was no stopping the Lions in round two as they roared their way to the final with Foutz overwhelming Sweitzer and Lee outlasting Floyd, making a place for themselves in the Bassmaster record books. Not only has an individual from the Bassmaster National Championship team never taken home the Classic Bracket honor, but also it is the first time since the Bracket’s creation that a college freshman has qualified for the Bassmaster Classic, also referred to as the “Super Bowl” of bass fishing. Lee and Foutz are the third set of teammates to make it through the eight-angler fish-off and meet in the championship round. The last occurrence was when Auburn University’s Matt Lee and Jordan Lee did so in 2012. To explain the importance of the Classic Bracket for the collegiate anglers, it should be known that both Lee brothers are currently Bassmaster Elite Series pro with Jordan being the reigning Bassmaster Classic champion. As the Classic Bracket winner, the individual gets a shot at the professional level with the Classic berth and paid entry into all nine Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens next year.

Ahead of Wednesday’s final, Foutz explained that he’d have to turn in some of his best fishing if he were to top fellow teammate Lee, and that’s exactly what he did. With a total weight of 16 pounds 5 ounces, Foutz weighed in the biggest bag of the bracket week, claiming the Classic Bracket title. Lee’s efforts gave way to 10 pounds 12 ounces.

Ultimately it was Foutz’ adaptability to the two different bodies of water and separate styles on each that led to success on Bemidji and then Serpent. Foutz and Lee went after largemouth bass while vying for the national championship, and then Foutz turned his attention to smallmouth bass when hitting the water on Serpent. His decision paid off after consistently producing impressive bags through the Classic Bracket.

Foutz, a native of Charleston, Tenn., has longed for the opportunity that almost all anglers dream of—to fish the Bassmaster Classic. “It’s an unbelievable feeling, one that is hard to describe unless you live it,” Foutz said. “I’ve been fishing ever since I could crawl, and as long as I can remember I wanted to fish the Bassmaster Classic. I’m fortunate enough to have fulfilled a lifelong dream.”

In the past week, the Lions have added a national championship and a victory in the Classic Bracket to their already notable achievement of Cabela’s School of the Year, which is a testament to the talent the young three-year program possesses.

“There are a bunch of unbelievable anglers at Bryan College,” explained Foutz. “They push Jake (Lee) and myself to be the best we can be. I look forward to representing college fishing this next year.”

The crucial moment for Foutz was when he landed a 4-pound smallmouth after an extremely slow start to the day. “When I caught that 4-0 I felt like I gave myself a shot to win,” Foutz said. “I kept culling up throughout the day and when I hit the 16-pound mark I was pretty certain I won.”

In addition to the Classic berth and entry fees waived for the opens, Foutz will receive a fully rigged and wrapped Toyota Tundra and Nitro Z20 bass boat with a 225 Mercury Pro XS equipped with Power-Pole shallow-water anchors, Humminbird electronics, and a Minn Kota trolling motor. Carhartt awarded him with $7,500 in prize money to help with travel expenses as he sets his sights on the professional events ahead.

Bryan College will be hosting an event to celebrate the national champions as they return home. The welcoming will begin at 12pm on Friday (Aug. 18) at the bottom of the new Bryan College entrance on Landes Way as the anglers make their way back to campus. Directly following the parade to usher in the national champions will be a media day in Summers Gymnasium, including a chance to hear from Bryan Fishing Head Coach Mike Keenand a Q&A time with Lee and Foutz. Invite your friends and family to help give the victors a warm Rhea County welcome back home!

For a look at how the Classic Bracket unfolded, visit

For photos from the Classic Bracket, click here.

For a look at the Classic Bracket weigh-ins, click here.

Bryan College Anglers ranked Number One in Nation

Nathan Bell and Dylan Pritchett finished 7th and 15th place respectively at Kentucky Lake on Saturday

March 16, 2017

Dayton, Tenn. — The temperature dropped drastically and the snow turned Kentucky Lake into a whiteout over the weekend, but that didn’t hinder the Bryan College Lions Fishing Team who weathered the wintry mix and battled their way to 7th and 15th place finishes at the Cabela’s Collegiate Big Bass Bash presented by Berkley on Saturday, Mar. 11, to surge ahead of the competition and dethrone Auburn University (Ala.) and claim the No. 1 spot in the country.

Dylan Pritchettt hold up his fish that garnered a 15th place finish for Bryan College on Saturday

The format of the 2017 Big Bass Bash had already been changed from a two-day event to a one-day event due the chance of inclement weather. The previous standings for Cabela’s School of the Year had University of Alabama, University of North Alabama, and University of South Carolina also ahead of Bryan, but the 513 points awarded to Nathan Bell (SR/Riceville, Tenn.) for his 6.81lber and 505 points given to Dylan Pritchett (JR/Evensville, Tenn.) after his 6.39lb catch helped the young Lions program make a rippling splash in collegiate fishing to lead the race for School of the Year.

In just their third year in existence, Bryan has fished their way through a tough body of water with no divisions or conferences, meaning that all schools in the nation are facing off for the Cabela’s School of the Year title. The 634 points compiled before the Big Bass Bash grew by more than a grand with the Lions now at 1,652 for the year.

The Big Bass Bash is a highly anticipated event for the schools vying for School of the Year, because of the large field of anglers that enter the event, which in turn allows for a large amount of points to be earned. The prize gets even sweeter with Cabela’s taking the top two finishes of each team, and each angler is considered a team. “You have to do well at the Big Bass Bash for a chance at becoming School of the Year,” explained Bell.

Even though fellow rival Bethel University (Tenn.) took the top honors with an 8.49lber and placed 6th with a 6.85lber, they closed the gap by only 15 points. Consistency has been key for the Lions with top finishes in every tournament this season, and that will play a major role in Bryan guarding the number one ranking.

Because of his experience, Bell didn’t let the mental game start playing tricks on him. “The day before I didn’t think the conditions were going to affect the fishing,” said Bell. “I have fished enough to know that when weather drastically changes that the fish will still bite. It’s normally the day after that you can start to notice the difference.”

He wasn’t nervous about the fish biting, but he did think that the approach would need to be different to get a big bite. Bell remarked, “I told my partner, Cole Sands (SO/Calhoun, Tenn.), that we would need to slow the pace down. Some of the guys wouldn’t be able to reach their spots, but all we needed was to catch two fish over 6lbs to lead in School of the Year.”

The tournament was broke into eight sessions, and the top-10 in each would win prizes. Bryan’s Dylan Kear (JR/Clinton, Tenn.) was the only one on the team to land a large enough fish to place through the first two sessions. Pritchett helped Bryan feel more comfortable when he placed 3rd in session three presented by Cabela’s with one of the 6lbers that Bell said the Lions would need. It wasn’t until session six that Connor Cohran (FR/Dalton, Ga.) and Jonathan Peck broke the silence with fish that neared the 5lb mark for 6th and 7th finishes during that particular weigh-in.

The Lions entered the final session, session eight presented by Engel Coolers & Costa Sunglasses, in need of one more 6lber, and it was Bell who delivered for Bryan. “When I caught the fish with just an hour left, I knew we killed it,” said Bell. “We had been fishing shallow all day, but Sands had the idea to go over to a deep spot. On my first cast of the last session, I felt it reach bottom and took it about two feet before the huge hit.”

When asked about how he felt helping the Lions to take over as the No. 1 team in the nation, Bell explained, “We are all excited about the honor to become the leader in the running for School of the Year. It’s entirely a team effort, and the cool thing is it takes all of us to outlast these large colleges and universities since there are no divisions. The strong finish in the Big Bass Bash sets us up really good for the top-10 in School of the Year, because all of the other schools close to us in the race have already participated in their regional tournament. We haven’t fished our BASS regional, which will provide us with even more points.”

Head Bryan Fishing Coach, Mike Keen said, “I am extremely proud of these guys. They have worked very hard to reach this milestone. This is the reward of a total team effort. Now we move our focus to placing high in each tournament in order to protect our No. 1 spot.”

Up next for the Lions, they travel to Lake Hartwell in Hartwell, S.C. this weekend for the FLW Southeastern Regional on Saturday, Mar. 18, and follow it up with the Cabela’s College Open on Lake Dardanelle in Russellville, Ark. next Saturday, Mar. 25.