Big Rapids, Mich. - The first official practice of 2012 is in the books for the Ferris State University football team.
The Bulldogs, who reported to camp on Wednesday, held their first practice of the season on Thursday (Aug. 9) afternoon under rainy conditions at FSU's Top Taggart Field. The two and a half-hour workout was spirited and featured plenty of enthusiasm despite the fact players were allowed to only wear helmets per NCAA regulations.
"The energy level was high and the pace was good," said first-year head coach Tony Annese. "It was a good practice overall, but challenging with the weather conditions. For the most part, it was an effective workout for our first time out."
Prior to Thursday's opening practice, the Bulldogs spent time on Wednesday and Thursday morning with various team and position meetings in addition to physicals, equipment check out and more.
FSU's second practice will take place on Friday and the Bulldogs will continue single practice sessions on the turf until the first two-a-day workouts are allowed. Based on the NCAA's acclimation period, all players must wear helmets only the first two practices followed by two days of half-pads work with the first day in full gear coming on Monday.
Ferris' three-week training camp period will not only feature practices and scrimmages, but also meetings, lifting, conditioning, testing, orientation sessions and more leading up to the season opener.
The Bulldogs return 40 letterwinners and nearly 18 starters from a year ago when they finished with a 6-5 overall record in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC).
Among the returnees for the Bulldogs this campaign are senior linebacker Tayo Moss, who has been tabbed as a Preseason All-American after earning All-GLIAC First Team honors a year ago. Other returning all-conference picks from last year include senior defensive end Jordan Morgan, a second-team choice in 2011, along with honorable mention returnees in senior tailback Skyler Stoker, senior offensive tackle Trevor Smolinski and senior defensive end Brad Iskow.
A proven winner at all of his previous coaching stops and highly-regarded across the country, Annese will direct the Bulldogs for the first time this fall following three impressive years as the head coach at Grand Rapids Community College, which came on the heels of a highly successful 25-season stint at the prep level.
Ferris State will officially begin its 104th season of varsity competition and the first campaign under Annese on the road with its lone non-league game on Thursday, Aug. 30, at the University of St. Francis (Ill.) in Joliet, Ill.
The Bulldogs' 11-game schedule in 2012 features five home contests at FSU's Top Taggart Field along with six consecutive night games to open the campaign. Ferris State's home opener is scheduled for Sept. 15 when the Ashland Eagles make the trip to Big Rapids to square off against the Bulldogs. Kickoff for the initial home game is slated for 7 p.m. (ET) under the lights.
Season and single-game tickets for the 2012 campaign are currently on sale now. For more information on ticket sales, please contact the FSU Athletics Ticket Office at (231) 591-2888 or visit www.FerrisStateBulldogs.com.