Editor's Note: This is the fifth installment of an eight-part series produced by the FSU Athletics Communications Office looking at different position groups as the Bulldogs prepare for their 2009 season opener on Saturday, Aug. 29, against Tiffin at Top Taggart Field.
Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University football team's
defensive line will no doubt have a much different look in
The Bulldogs enter the season minus one of the top performers to ever wear the Crimson and Gold colors in three-time All-America defensive tackle Jake Visser. The four-year starter was regarded as one of the nation's top players last fall and a thorn in the opposition's side throughout his entire career.
It's highly unlikely Visser's shoes will be filled by any one player, but a group of solid returnees and a few additions should help keep FSU's strong defensive line tradition alive and well.
On the inside, the Bulldogs welcome back a returning starter in Kory Deering (Grand Rapids/West Catholic) at one of the tackle spots. The 6-3 Deering has the potential to be one of the league's top players at his position after recording 26 total stops including two for loss a year ago. He is expected to be the leader of this group.
Besides Visser, the Bulldogs also lost two other starters up front in ends Kyle Walker and Darnell Wilson, leaving the door open for a pair of returning letterwinners in senior Joe Morrow (Kingsley) and junior tackle Jacob Moreno (Holt). Both have been around the program and figure to contend for starting roles after seeing significant action last campaign. Moreno finished with 29 tackles last year as a six-game starter in relief of an injured Wilson while Morrow appeared in nine contests overall.
"We lost some starters up front, but we're still an older team on the defensive side of the ball," said FSU Defensive Coordinator Duane Wilson. "We're expecting big things out of Kory Deering and both Morrow and Moreno have been around and will get their chance to play a little more."
The Bulldogs are also high on redshirt freshman Jordan Morgan (Chicago, Ill./Mt. Carmel), who received the squad's Defensive Newcomer Award for his work during spring practice. Morgan is penciled in to start at one of the defensive end spots opposite Morrow and could help make up for Visser's loss by providing a consistent pass rush threat.
"We really like Jordan's ability and he had a dynamite spring so hopefully that will help us replace some of the guys we lost up front," Wilson said.
Ferris also returns sophomore Muneer Bawayeh (Dearborn/Fordson), who should challenge for additional playing time after seeing limited action as a reserve last fall. Senior Marvin Hicks (Detroit/Farmington Hills Harrison) is another player with the ability to see game action this campaign.
"We lost some guys to graduation, but it gives some other guys who have been in the program an opportunity to step up this season," head coach Jeff Pierce said. "We're reloading this group and some guys will be adjusting to new roles in helping replace those guys we lost."
FSU added a late transfer in former Brevard (N.C.) College
starter Tinh Ho (Atlanta, Ga./Norcross), who has
prior game experience and should contend for time.
A group of redshirt freshmen could also figure into the mix if healthy including Brad Iskow (Bad Ake), Rance Mask (Lansing/Everett) and Justin Williams (Pontiac/Central), who was the squad's recipient of Tomorrow's Team Defensive Player of the Year honor for his efforts last season.
Fellow redshirt freshman Dean Roberts (Grass Lake/Chelsea) was moved from the offensive line prior to fall camp to help supply additional depth while the Bulldogs also made this area a focus during the recruiting period.
Several incoming freshmen joined the team this fall and will be expected to progress as time goes along including Banay Jones (Flint/Hamady), Victor Mercado (Bay City/Central), Brandon Lane (Davison/Livonia Franklin), Brandon Ross (Port Charlotte, Fla./Charlotte), William Mazur (Comstock Park), Devin Kachinosky (Dearborn Heights/Divine Child) and Hunter Atkins (Kalamazoo Central).
Next Installment: The "Countdown To Kickoff" series will resume on Saturday (Aug. 22) with a look at the linebackers.