Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University football team opens its 2014 campaign in two weeks and the Bulldogs continue to receive preseason acclaim as they prepare for the season opener.
FSU is presently ranked among the nation's top 30 teams in three different Division II collegiate polls announced over the past week, including 22nd in the Massey Ratings and 25th in the CompughterRatings.com poll. The Bulldogs also placed tied for 30th in the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Preseason Rankings unveiled by the national coaches organization.
The Massey Ratings are compiled and updated throughout the season based on teams' strength of schedule, power rating and more. Meanwhile, the CompughterRatings.com poll is a computer-generated ranking system for professional and collegiate sports teams while the AFCA poll is compiled by a voting group consisting of coaches from across the country.
The Bulldogs, who were picked second in the 2014 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) North Division poll, 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.
FSU is currently midst its second week of fall camp and will hold its annual Media/Photo Day on Saturday (Aug. 23) morning beginning at 8:30 a.m. (ET) at Top Taggart Field with its first major scrimmage of fall camp to follow.
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 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.