Click Here For USA Football Preseason All-America Teams
Big Rapids, Mich. - The excitement continues for build for the 2014 fall campaign as seven members of the Ferris State University football squad have been chosen as USA Football Preseason Division II All-Americans.
The official announcment of the USA Football preseason list was made this past week and the Bulldogs are featured prominently with seven representatives, including three on the offensive side of the football along with four from the defensive unit.
Junior defensive end Justin Zimmer (Greenville) headlines the group of Bulldogs as a USA Football Preseason First-Team All-American. He's joined on the list by a trio of third-team senior defensive picks in tackle Corey Stone (Sterling Heights/Stevenson), linebacker Darnell Morris (Detroit/Inkster) and defensive back A.J. McEwen (East Grand Rapids).
The offensive unit is represented by third-team Preseason All-America quarterback Jason Vander Laan (Frankfort, Ill./Chicago Christian) along with a pair of preseason honorable mention choices in junior lineman Adam Bennett (Romeo) and senior receiver Jake Lampman (East Lansing/Haslett).
The 26th annual USA Football Preseason All-Americans are selected by members of football media organizations (Metropolitan New York Football Writers Association, New England Football Writers Associaition, Philadelphia Football Writers and the Football Writers of America Associaition), internet and media publications (Lindy's Sports Annuals, Athlone Sports, Phil Steele's, The Sports Network and USA Football News), college Head Coaches and Sports Information Directors plus professional coaches and scouts. The roster of USA College Football's All-American Teams serves as a "Watch List" for the USA College College Bowl and is distrbuted to NFL, CFL, Minor League and International football franchises.
In addition to the Preseason All-America listing, those Bulldog honorees receiving first, second or third-team laurels were also honored as 2014 Preseason Regional All-Stars, including Vander Laan, Zimmer, Morris, Stone and McEwen.
All seven individuals previously received All-Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) laurels in 2013 with Zimmer chosen as a first-team All-GLIAC pick and both Vander Laan and Stone named to the second-team list. Bennett, Lampman, Morris and McEwen were All-GLIAC Honorable Mention choices last fall.
Zimmer played a key role on a Bulldog defensive unit that got stronger as the year went on in 2013 and eventually led the league in total defense. As a redshirt sophomore, Zimmer paced FSU and ranked among the league leaders with both 7.5 sacks (-33 yards) and 10.5 tackles for loss (-41 yards). He ranked fourth among the team leaders with 57 tackles and scored a touchdown on a 20-yard interception return last year. The standout end also had seven quarterback hurries, blocked two kicks and forced two fumbles while starting all 11 games.
Last fall, Vander Laan was among the nation's Harlon Hill Trophy candidates and ranked as the nation's top running quarterback with more rushing yards on the ground last season than any other signal caller in the country, regardless of level. His 1,607 total yards rushing finished tops among all quarterbacks at the NCAA Division I, II or III level, including both the FBS and FCS levels of competition. In addition, his total topped the all-time NCAA Division II single-season mark for rushing yards by a quarterback last year. Overall, Vander Laan ranked fourth nationally in rushing touchdowns (21) along with seventh nationally in rushing yards (1,607). Vander Laan was also eighth in the country in scoring (11.5 ppg.) and second in the GLIAC in points responsible for (216).
Stone was a dominant force on the interior of the Bulldogs' defensive line and finished the year with 49 tackles, including 13 solo stops and 36 assisted tackles. He had six tackles for loss (-11 yards) and five quarterback hurries while recording one fumble. His play helped the Bulldogs finish the year as the league leader in rushing defense.
McEwen became a key contributor in the secondary last fall after previously starting at wide receiver in 2012. He was among the league and nation's top cornerbacks in the statistical rankings most of the year with five interceptions for 41 return yards. He finished with 33 tackles, including 26 unassisted hits and added a squad-best 12 pass breakups in addition to a recovery.
Morris became an impact player in his first season as a Bulldog player. He was third overall on the team with 63 tackles and had six tackles for loss (-7 yards) in addition to a fumble recovery. A total of 22 of his stops were unassisted efforts.
Lampman also claimed All-GLIAC honorable mention honors last fall for the second year in a row after ranking as FSU's leading receiver with 38 catches for 542 total yards (14.3 average). He caught five touchdown receptions and also carried the ball 18 times for 132 yards and four scores.
Finally, Bennett earned All-GLIAC honorable mention accolades for the second-straight year in 2013 despite moving from center to guard. He started all 11 games and played a key role in the Bulldogs' offensive success, which included ranking among the nation's top teams in rushing, scoring and total offense.
Ferris State wrapped up a successful 2013 campaign and the second season under head coach Tony Annese's direction last fall with a 8-3 overall record along with a second-place 8-2 finish in the GLIAC North Division standings. FSU narrowly missed receiving the school's first playoff bid in 17 years.
The Bulldogs' eight-win campaign last fall was the school's first since 2006 and only the second in the program's last 16 seasons. Additionally, Ferris State's eight league wins in 2013 were also its most since 1996. FSU's eight league wins in 2013 were also its most since 1996 and the Bulldogs beat rival Grand Valley State for the second consecutive year to hold onto possession of the Anchor-Bone Trophy.
Recently, FSU also inked a highly-regarded 35-member recruiting class on National Signing Day in February. The talented class of 33 prepsters and two Division I transfers came on the heels of a stellar class a year ago that was labeled as the best in the nation.
The Bulldogs will begin their 106th season of varsity competition this coming fall with their sights set on competing for a potential GLIAC Championship and a NCAA Division II Playoff berth after posting only the program's second eight-win season in the last 16 years during the 2013 campaign. FSU opens the 2014 campaign with a non-league contest at McKendree (Ill.) on Thursday, Sept. 4, before visiting Northwood for their GLIAC opener on Sept. 13 in Midland.
FSU's 2014 home opener at Top Taggart Field will be on Sept. 20 as the Bulldogs entertain archrival Grand Valley State in the Anchor-Bone Classic with kickoff set for 7 p.m. (ET).
Both season and individual game tickets for all 2014 home contests are now on sale and can be purchased thru the FSU Athletics Ticket Office by calling (231) 591-2888 or online at StarTickets.com. For more information, please visit FerrisStateBulldogs.com.