Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


A Family Affair

NEW ORLEANS, LA – Footsteps.

As an opposing receiver prepares to catch a ball over the middle of the field, they are sure to hear the advancing footsteps of FAU senior safety Kris Bartels. The sound immediately following the footsteps is usually that of a crushing tackle.


Marcus Bartels is following in the footsteps of his big brother Kris. And in years to come Marcus may be providing similar sound effects.

Kris, in his fifth year at FAU, has played virtually the entire 2007 season with a shoulder injury. Anyone that knows him would say that sounds about right. Kris has gone from an unheralded walk-on to one of the most respected members of the team through great effort and hard hits.

“You have to give respect in order to earn respect,” he says after his final practice in preparation for the New Orleans Bowl – his last collegiate game. “It came quick, a lot faster than I would have thought. I remember my first practice and here I am at my last.”

This year Kris earned the title of All-Sun Belt honorable mention after recording 43 tackles in 11 games for the 2007 conference champions.

“Everybody looks up to him and respects him for his presence, his leadership, and his preparation,” said linebacker Frantz Joseph.

Just like Kris, Marcus plays safety and came to FAU without a scholarship offer and played his way onto the team. He was offered scholarships at some smaller out-of-state schools after a successful career at Flanagan High in Pembroke Pines, but he wanted to play at the highest level of college football and earn a spot on the team, just like his brother. Footsteps.

“It means a lot to see them get their dream, to play at this level,” says Jack Bartels, Kris and Marcus’ father. “They were always small, but they had the biggest heart.”

“He chose to stay home and follow his brother’s path,” says Manuela, Jack Bartels, Kris and Marcus’ mother. “He loves the campus life and the program and the coaching staff at FAU.”

Kris is listed at 5-10 but admits to that being a generous estimate. Whatever his actual height, it is indisputable he is a 210 lb. mound of muscle that flies around the field, long hair flapping out the back of his helmet, dishing out vicious hits. Kris made the spring team in 2004 as a redshirt freshman and was invited to join the team in the fall. He played in six games that season and by 2005 he had secured a starting safety spot, a spot he never relinquished. In 2006 he was the defensive MVP.

“Just because you were a starter in high school doesn’t mean you are going to be one here,” says Kris.

In fact, Kris didn’t do much starting at Chaminade-Madonna High School. He was stuck behind highly-touted Jon Beason, a linebacker recruited by the University of Miami.

Marcus joined the scout team this season and with Coach Howard Schnellenberger’s decision to bring all 113 players to New Orleans, he was one of them. While Kris wears number 27, Marcus has been given number 20A, with running back Charles Pierre to use 20 in the bowl game. Marcus will not leave the sideline against Memphis but he has participated in practices at the New Orleans Saints facility with the rest of the Owls.

“It’s crazy, I never thought I’d be on the same team as my brother,” Kris says. “It’s awesome.”

“It feels amazing, I can’t even begin to explain it,” says Manuela.

The Bartels expect about 50 family members to make the trip to watch Kris’ last and Marcus’ first game in the FAU uniform. Over the past four years Manuela and Jack have done their best to be at every game they possibly could, home and away, only missing a couple.

“It’s a family affair now,” says Jack. “It’s a year round thing where we gear our schedule towards what’s going on at FAU.”

To continue to follow in his brother’s footsteps and keep his family members in the stands at Owls games, Kris offers Marcus a simple formula.

“I tell my brother and the other walk-ons that they have to keep working and just do what the veterans do,” Kris says.

Read more New Orleans Bowl Game coverage.

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