Another Saint in New Orleans – Jake Byrne

Past three days have been a great test of patience! As the NFL Draft trickled down to the 250s, we were praying and concerned Jake wouldn’t be drafted. The draft was over and we had not heard anything from Jake yet. We went to church to get things ready for tomorrow’s service. We knelt in the McNeleys Chapel, in prayer for Jake, trusting that he is in the Lord’s hands and He knew best. As I was trimming the hedge outside our church, Holly came out with a tweet from Nick, our youngest – that he was proud of his brother. We still wanted to make sure and after ascertaining with Jake, Holly told me that he had signed up with the New Orleans Saints. Jake is a great kid who wants to help others for His glory!  Great attitude Jake! Here is his mom;s post on him.


Congratulations Jake!

Here’s an old posting while he played for the Wisconsin Badgers!
May the Good Lord continue to bless you. Your mom and I are proud of you!

Here is the article on Jake “UW tight end catches on to playing with diabetes” by Jeff Potrykus of Journal Sentinel Online. Sometimes the links disappear , hence here is the full extent of the article thanks to Jeff Potrykus of

Madison —As he prepared for his junior year of high school in Rogers, Ark., Jake Byrne knew his body was short-circuiting.

He just didn’t know why.

“I lost about 30 pounds and couldn’t figure it out,” Byrne, now a junior tight end at Wisconsin, said after a recent practice.

Byrne was a 245-pound offensive tackle as a high school sophomore. His weight dropped to 215 pounds during the summer before his junior season, so he was moved to wide receiver.

“At first, I thought it was a bladder infection,” Byrne said. “I had to go to the bathroom every 10 minutes.”

Doctors eventually diagnosed Byrne with type 1 diabetes. Byrne’s pancreas wasn’t producing enough insulin to control his blood sugar level.

“I was dehydrated because of all the sugar,” he said, “and I was thirsty and drinking Powerade, which has sugar.”

According to Powerade, the drink has 14 grams of sugar and 0 grams of protein in every eight-ounce serving. Byrne, like many of his high school teammates, drank a lot of the sports drink.

Today, Byrne is working to replace the departed Garrett Graham at tight end with UW’s No. 1 offense and take pressure off senior H-back Lance Kendricks.

“I feel I can be the guy who can go in there and help Lance out,” Byrne said. “I think we can complement each other.”

Byrne is listed at 6 foot 4, 251 pounds, but his weight is up to 256 pounds. The latter figure is an increase of 11 pounds from last season.

He improved his eating habits over the off-season and was more productive in the weight room.

“I just sat down and thought about all the things that have affected me,” Byrne said. “So I tried to get a healthier diet with more protein and more complex carbs.

“I changed my diet and worked hard in the weight room to become stronger.”

His old diet included standard American fare.

“I was always a huge fan of cheeseburgers and french fries,” he said, smiling. “There is a place on State St. called the Fat Sandwich Company. Love it.

“But I try to cut those things out and do more grilled chicken breast and vegetables. Trying to cook for myself was a little challenging, but once I got the hang of it, I felt better.

“So it was definitely worth it.”

Tight ends coach Joe Rudolph challenged all the players in his unit to hit the 400-pound mark on the bench press and the 500-pound mark in the squat.

Byrne hit 385 on the bench and 505 on the squat. His previous high marks had been 350 and 435, respectively.

“His confidence level is much, much higher, and that allows you to play faster,” Rudolph said. “I think he has gotten stronger physically. He is a physical player, a good football player.”

Byrne has a constant companion during practice and games – an insulin pump taped onto his back and covered by protective padding.

“We custom-made a back plate and stuck it in there,” said Byrne, who likened the pump to being hooked up to an IV. “I take insulin any time I eat anything with sugar.

“I check my blood sugar – during a regular day with no practice probably six times – and with practice it could be 10 or 12 times. It’s just kind of how I feel.”

Rudolph, who was a graduate assistant at Ohio State and the tight ends coach at Nebraska before coming to UW in 2008, has experience coaching players with diabetes.

“Our medical staff has done a great job with Jake, and he has done a great job learning how to handle everything,” Rudolph said. “You just coach him, and you trust they’ll let you know when they’re not feeling right.

“He has got a pretty good feel about his (condition), and he’s pretty honest with the medical staff.”

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