Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University football team officially reports for the 2014 campaign with high expectations as fall camp begins this week in Big Rapids.
The Bulldogs' returning veterans and newcomers will all return to campus early this week for player check-in with the official camp starting date on Wednesday (Aug. 13). The Bulldogs' first practice will be Thursday (Aug. 14) afternoon and FSU will practice once per day until the first two-a-day session on Aug. 19 after the NCAA's mandatory acclimation period.
Ferris' 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 are expected to return nearly 50 letterwinners and at least 14 starters from a year ago when they finished with a 8-3 overall record and narrowly missed receiving the school's first playoff bid in 17 years under head coach Tony Annese.
Among the returnees for the Bulldogs this campaign are seven preseason NCAA Division II All-Americans, including four from the defensive unit in junior end Justin Zimmer (Greenville), senior defensive tackle Corey Stone (Sterling Heights/Stevenson), senior linebacker Darnell Morris (Detroit/Inkster) and senior defensive back A.J. McEwen (East Grand Rapids).
The offensive unit is represented by Preseason All-America quarterback and returning Harlon Hill Trophy candidate Jason Vander Laan (Frankfort, Ill./Chicago Christian) along with junior lineman Adam Bennett (Romeo) and senior receiver Jake Lampman (East Lansing/Haslett).
Ferris State wrapped up a successful 2013 campaign and the second season under Annese's direction last fall with a 8-3 overall record along with a second-place 8-2 finish in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) North Division standings.
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.
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.