Big Rapids, Mich. - With the 78th annual National Football League (NFL) Draft taking place this weekend at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, a group of former Ferris State University football players hope to hear their names called or be contacted by NFL or professional football franchises as potential free agent pickups following the annual event.
The group of Bulldog players, who all wrapped up their FSU careers last fall, have received interest from a number of NFL teams and/or taken place in various pro scouting combines and all-star contests in recent weeks. In fact, five are currently listed among the top 100 players at their respective positions across the country in at least one mock draft list. Several also recently attended a pro timing day held at Grand Valley State where 23 NFL teams were present.
Three Bulldog players recently competed in the 2013 Michigan vs. Ohio College Football Senior Bowl, which took place last Saturday (April 20) at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. The group included FSU tailback Skyler Stoker (Jackson/Grass Lake) along with defensive end Jordan Morgan (Chicago/Mt. Carmel) and linebacker Tayo Moss (South Rockwood/Monroe St. Mary's), who all wrapped up their collegiate eligibility last fall.
Two other players who did not participate in that game have potentially drawn even more interest in defensive end Brad Iskow (Bad Axe) along with cornerback Jamar Slade (Macomb/L'Anse Cruse North).
Iskow spent the past few months working out at St. Vincent Sports Performance, which is an intensive seven-week training program in Indianapolis where he trained alongside a group of NFL Draft prospects. He also recently took part in a Canadian Football League (CFL) workout in Akron, Ohio.
Meanwhile, Slade received an official invitation to attend the 2013 NFL Super Regional Combine which was held April 7-8 at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas after being tabbed as one of the top players at a regional combine event held in Cleveland. The NFL Super Regional Combine provided exposure for players overlooked by the official scouting combine held each year in Indianapolis and the event was both ran in identical fashion to the NFL Scouting Combine and covered by the NFL Network.
The NFL Draft begins with round one on Thursday (April 25) night at 8 p.m. (ET). Round two will take place on Friday night from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. (ET) with the final rounds four thru seven set for Saturday from noon until 8 p.m. Both ESPN and the NFL Network will have endless coverage of the draft.
The talented group of veterans helped lead the Bulldogs to a 7-4 overall record during the 2012 campaign under first-year head coach Tony Annese, which marked only the second time in the past decade the Bulldogs have won seven or more games in a season.
FSU's 2012 wins included the program's first victory over rival Grand Valley State since 1999, the Bulldogs' first triumph over Michigan Tech in 10 years and a memorable come-from-behind road win against defending NCAA Division II National Runner-Up Wayne State. Ferris State has followed up that success by recently inking perhaps the nation's number one recruiting class at the Division II level.
As a senior this past season for the Bulldogs, Slade had his best season as a Bulldog and served as one of the squad's emotional leaders while playing in all 11 games. He tallied 18 solo tackles with 14 assists for 32 total stops while also registering five pass breakups along with both a sack and a tackle for loss. For his efforts, he claimed the squad's Defensive Skill Player of the Year honor. In four years with the Bulldogs, Slade appeared in 35 career games and netted 56 total tackles on 27 solo hits and 29 assisted stops. He also had seven breakups along with 2.5 tackles for loss and a sack.
An all-region and all-conference selection, Iskow ranked first in the conference and second nationally this regular-season campaign in tackles for loss with a school single-season record 25.5 TFL's on the year. He concluded his career with 164 total tackles, 45 tackles for loss (-147 yards), 13 sacks, eight quarterback hurries, six forced fumbles, four pass breakups and two blocked kicks in 39 games played.
On the opposite side, Morgan led the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) in sacks with 10.5 total for -46 yards on the season. He also ranked second in tackles for loss with 14.0 (-52 yards). Morgan had two forced fumbles, two hurries, a blocked kick and a fumble recovery while making 65 total stops, including 35 solo efforts. He wrapped up his career as the school-record holder in blocked kicks and finished third in total sacks while also earning all-region first team and all-GLIAC kudos.
Meanwhile, Moss led the conference in stops for the second-straight year with a league-high 116 total tackles while earning Division II Honorable Mention All-America honors from the Beyond Sports College Network. He added eight tackles for loss (-14 yards), two fumble recoveries, two pass breakups and a forced fumble while starting all 11 contests. His totals included a school-record 82-yard fumble recovery return for a score. Like Iskow and Morgan, he was an all-region honoree and All-GLIAC First Team pick.
Finally, Stoker was among the league leaders in all-purpose yardage and compiled 526 rushing yards along with making 26 catches for 353 yards. He also served as the Bulldogs' punter and was a primary kickoff returner before missing time due to injury. He claimed All-GLIAC Honorable Mention laurels for the second year in a row and was named to the 2012 Don Hansen's All-Super Region Four First Team as an all-purpose performer. Stoker was among the players named to the D2football.com "Big Board" as potential pro football hopefuls.
No Ferris State football player has ever been drafted by an NFL team, according to the official NFL Draft Report.
However, several former Bulldogs have inked NFL contracts as free agents and played in the league. The most recent to earn a free agent contract was cornerback Angelo Williams (Jackson), who signed with the Minnesota Vikings after going undrafted in 2010.
Williams unofficially represented at least the ninth former Ferris State player to ever sign a NFL contract. The select group also consists of running back Dave Gagnon (1974-Chicago Bears), outside linebacker Monty Brown (1997-New York Jets), defensive tackle Ed Philion (1994-Buffalo Bills), defensive end Dave Zuiderveen (2001-Atlanta Falcons), flanker Clarence Coleman (2002-Buffalo Bills), tackle Matt McCoy (2004-Detroit Lions), wide receiver Carlton Brewster (2006-Cleveland Browns) and defensive tackle Jake Visser (2009-Houston Texans).
Two other former Ferris State players, offensive guard Bill Bourdlais and safety Patrick Wells, received tryout invitations from the Cleveland Browns in 2008 and participated in the team's rookie minicamp, but did not ink a deal. Several others have also had NFL tryouts including wide receiver Andre Johnson (1989), quarterback Dave DenBraber (1987) and receiver/returner Fred Kirkland (1981).