Big Rapids, Mich. - The preseason recognition continues for the Ferris State University football program in anticipation for the upcoming 2014 campaign as a pair of Bulldog standouts, junior quarterback Jason Vander Laan (Frankfort, Ill./Chicago Christian) and junior defensive end Justin Zimmer (Greenville), have been chosen to the Beyond Sports Network (BSN) Preseason All-Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) First Team.
Previously this week, both were also recognized as 2014 preseason first-team All-Americans with Vander Laan claiming acclaim from BSN and Zimmer tabbed to the USA Football squad.
On the BSN Preseason All-GLIAC squad, Vander Laan was one of two quarterbacks chosen along with Ohio Dominican's Mark Miller. Meanwhile, Zimmer was one of five defensive linemen chosen to the list. The preseason all-league picks were made by the BSN staff and based on returning performers from last season's all-conference teams, game evaluations and overall statistics.
Previously, the two standouts were chosen earlier this week among the seven Ferris State student-athletes who claimed USA Football Preseason All-American recognition. Zimmer headlined the group of Bulldogs as a USA Football Preseason First-Team All-American and was 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 was represented by Vander Laan along with a pair of preseason honorable mention choices in junior lineman Adam Bennett (Romeo) and senior receiver Jake Lampman (East Lansing/Haslett).
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).
Earlier this week, Vander Laan was also listed among the national nominees for the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Good Works Team.
The performance of Vander Laan and Zimmer in 2013 helped the Bulldogs finish with an 8-3 overall record along with a second-place 8-2 finish in the GLIAC North Division standings. FSU, which finished the year riding a four-game winning streak, narrowly missed receiving the school's first playoff bid in 17 years.
The Bulldogs' eight-win campaign was the school's first since 2006 and only the second in the program's last 16 seasons. In addition, FSU's eight league victories were its most since 1996 and the four-game winning streak to close the season was the longest to end a campaign since 2001.
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. 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.