Mines News

Release Date Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Mines Athlete Credits Coaches for Success at the Hula Bowl

Jack Batho, a senior offensive tackle on the Hardrocker Football Team at South Dakota Mines, was one of a handful of D2 athletes invited to play in the recent Hula Bowl.


When Jack Batho stepped onto the field at the 2021 Hula Bowl at Aloha Stadium, in Honolulu, HI, he became the first ever Hardrocker football player to join the all-star game. He also accomplished something only a handful of other D2 athletes managed to do this year; the Hula Bowl features the best college football players from around the world, many are bound for the NFL. 

“This gave me the opportunity to play in front of a bunch of bigger school athletes and scouts.” says Batho. “It was good to experience some things we don’t always see at the D2 level and compare myself against those athletes.”     

Batho, a senior offensive tackle on the Hardrocker Football Team at South Dakota Mines, is humble about his success. He credits Hardrocker head football coach Charlie Flohr and the rest of the coaching staff and administration for their advocacy that opened the door to this opportunity.

“I need to give a big shout out to the coaches and administration for pushing for us to have a fall season despite the challenges of COVID-19,” says Batho. “We were one of few D2 schools that played. The hard work of coaches and staff to make this happen gave me the opportunity to go out and prove I can play at this level in my final season as a college athlete. They also advocated for me on and off the field and this helped me land the opportunity to play in the Hula Bowl,” Batho adds.  

Batho, gives special credit to Coach Cody O’Neill, who despite undergoing heart transplant surgery in the fall, remained dedicated to helping him succeed.

“Coach O’Neill has done a lot for me personally and as a player. Despite his own challenges, he has been there for me to this day in talking to scouts and NFL teams on my behalf. It means a great deal to have a coaching staff that is really devoted to the athletes and the program,” says Batho.

Batho graduates with a double major in mechanical engineering and pre-health sciences in May. He won’t go straight to work as an engineer or scientist in a medical field; rather, he will continue to pursue his childhood dream of playing in the NFL. “I’m training here with our Hardrocker strength coaches, getting ready for a pro day sometime in mid-March. From there it’s in the hands of the NFL teams. If I’m not selected in the draft pick, there’s a chance I may get invited to a camp and signed after the draft. Until then, it’s just training,” says Batho.  

Even if Batho doesn’t make the NFL he has a bright future as an engineer.  Mines graduates earn an average annual starting salary of $66,500. Furthermore, a degree from Mines has a lifelong value. A study by Georgetown University examining 4,500 schools in the country puts South Dakota Mines in the top 5% for ROI over a 40-year span. 

“That’s one of the reasons I came to Mines,” says Batho. “I have an incredible fallback plan and there is a piece of mind in this,” he says. “I can pour myself into football and not have to worry about what-ifs. Not many schools can offer that.” 

Regardless of where Batho ends up, his successes to date, both as an engineering student and football player make many Hardrockers proud. Coach Flohr is among them. 

For a student athlete to come out of Mines with the opportunity to play at the next level as well as graduate with a double major in STEM says a lot about Jack and the type of person he is and how committed he is,” says Flohr.

Batho’s success also speaks volumes for the football program at Mines.  “We want every athlete that comes to South Dakota Mines to have a complete experience,” says Flohr. “We want to make sure they have a chance to excel in football, academics, social life, we want to make sure every player has the best and most complete college experience they can.

For his own part, Batho maintains humility, “It’s an honor just to be able to move the Hardrocker football program forward,” he says.


About South Dakota Mines  

Founded in 1885, South Dakota Mines is one of the nation’s leading engineering, science and technology universities. South Dakota Mines offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees and a best-in-class education at an affordable price. The university enrolls 2,493 students with an average class size of 24. The South Dakota Mines placement rate for graduates is 98 percent, with an average starting salary of more than $70,036. For these reasons  South Dakota Mines is ranked among the best engineering schools in the country for return on investment. Find us online at www.sdsmt.edu and on FacebookTwitter, LinkedInInstagram, and Snapchat.

Contact: Mike Ray, 605-394-6082, mike.ray@sdsmt.edu

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