PREVIEW: Ferris State Football Opens 106th Season This Thursday At McKendree

PREVIEW: Ferris State Football Opens 106th Season This Thursday At McKendree

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This Week:
The Ferris State University football team begins its 106th year of varsity competition by visiting McKendree (Ill.) on Thursday (Sept. 4) night for a non-conference matchup at Leemon Field in Lebanon, Ill. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. (ET) between the Bulldogs and the Bearcats.

The Opponent: The Bearcats were picked fifth in the 2014 Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) Preseason Poll. They are coming off a 4-6 mark in 2013, which included a 3-4 record in the GLVC. The Bearcats return 41 lettermen, including 18 starters for second-year head coach Mike Babcock. Eight starters return defensively with six on the offensive side and four on special teams.

Series History: Thursday night's game will represent the first-ever meeting between Ferris State and McKendree. The two teams will meet again next year in 2015 to wrap up the home-and-home scheduling agreement with the Bearcats visiting FSU's Top Taggart Field in Big Rapids to open the season. 

Media Coverage: Thursday's game will be carried live locally by the Bulldog Sports Network and Sunny 97.3 FM with the veteran broadcast team of Rob Bentley (play-by-play) and Sandy Gholston (color) calling the action. The contest will also be streamed with free live audio online at McKendree will provide both live internet stats and a video webcast at

Season Openers: The Bulldogs will be participating in their 106th season opener since 1900 (no scores available in 1912 & 1916) and have compiled a 45-53-5 (.461 winning percentage) record. The Bulldogs have won 15 of their last 25 season openers to date, including eight of their last 17 overall. Ferris has won five of its last seven season openers and is presently 1-1 under head coach Tony Annese, beating St. Francis (Ill.) on the road in 2012 before a 56-10 setback in last year's opener to the top-ranked FCS team in the country in North Dakota State, which went on to win its third-straight national title last fall.

Follow On Twitter: In addition to radio and internet coverage, Bulldog fans can also follow Thursday's contest and all other FSU games this year with live scoring updates on several official social media platforms.  Visit to follow the tweet-by-tweet coverage with periodic scoring updates or visit

The Records: Ferris State posted an 8-3 overall record in 2013 and placed second in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) North Division standings with a 8-2 conference mark. FSU, which won seven games in head coach Tony Annese's debut season in 2012, closed the 2013 season riding a four-game winning streak and narrowly missed receiving the school's first NCAA playoff bid in 17 years.

McKendree posted a 4-6 overall record last fall and was 3-4 in the GLVC standings under head coach Mike Babcock. The Bearcats posted a 3-2 record at home a year ago and finished the season by winning two of their last three outings. They split two games versus GLIAC foes last year, beating Tiffin 32-28 in the season opener at home before falling in a home contest to Findlay 38-21 in early October.

Coming Up Next: Ferris State opens GLIAC play next week by visiting Northwood on Saturday, Sept. 13. Kickoff is set for 12 p.m. (ET) at NU's Hantz Stadium in Midland. The Bulldogs were a 42-10 winner over the Timberwolves last November on the road in Midland.

Nationally-Ranked: Ferris State is featured among the nation's top teams in several preseason polls, including being ranked 21st in the National Rankings. FSU has also been ranked among the nation's top 30 teams in three other Division II collegiate polls, including 22nd in the Massey Ratings and 25th in the poll. The Bulldogs also placed tied for 30th in the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Preseason Rankings unveiled by the national coaches organization.

The GLIAC In The Rankings: Ferris State was among four Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) member schools found in the Top 25 along with rival Grand Valley State (#2), Ohio Dominican (#10) and Saginaw Valley State (#20). All three teams are on the Bulldogs' schedule in 2014.

The Coaches: Ferris State – Tony Annese (Alma, 1983), 3rd season, 15-7-0 (.682) – (0-0-0 vs. McKendree).  Annese recorded a 195-41 (.826) mark as a head coach in four stops at the high school level before totaling a 30-4 (.882) record in three years as the head coach at Grand Rapids Community College.  His overall career mark is 240-52 (.822) to date and includes three prep state championships and two national JUCO crowns.

McKendree – Mike Babcock (UCLA), 2nd season, 4-6 (.400) – (0-0-0 vs. Ferris State). Babcock recorded a 4-6 overall record in his first season at the Bearcats' helm last fall following five years as an assistant coach at highly-regarded Division II member Colorado State-Pueblo. He previously served on coaching staffs in various roles at UCLA, Colorado and San Diego.

Four-Game Streak: Prior to last year, FSU had not closed a regular-season by winning four games in a row since 2001. Ferris State closed 2013 with wins over Michigan Tech, Wayne State, Northwood and Northern Michigan with both two coming at home and two on the road.

Eight League Wins: Last year marked the first time the Bulldogs had posted eight wins in GLIAC play since 1996 and it was only the fourth time in the last 17 years dating back to the 1990's in which FSU won at least seven league games. FSU also won seven games in the conference in 1999, 2001 and 2006, but had not claimed eight league victories since winning nine conference games en route to the Midwest Intercollegiate Football Conference title in 1996.

Year Three Under Annese: A proven winner at all of his previous coaching stops and highly-regarded across the country, Tony Annese will direct the Bulldogs for the third time this fall. He came to FSU following three impressive years as the head coach at Grand Rapids Community College, which came on the heels of a highly successful 25-season stint at the prep level.  He owns an overall career head coaching record of 240-52 (.822) entering the 2014 campaign and was 30-4 (.882) as a junior college head coach at GRCC.

Bulldog Preview: Expectations remain high at Ferris State in year three under head coach Tony Annese.  The Bulldogs posted a 7-4 overall mark in his debut season (2012) prior to last year's 8-3 mark (2013) and FSU has ranked among the nation's top 10 teams in both rushing offense and total offense each of the last two years.

The Bulldogs, who were picked second in the 2014 GLIAC North Division poll, return nearly 50 letterwinners and at least 14 starters from a year ago when they narrowly missed receiving the school's first playoff bid in 17 years. Among the returnees for the Bulldogs this campaign are seven preseason NCAA Division II All-Americans.

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 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.

Change of Direction: The Bulldogs recorded several impressive wins in their first year under head coach Tony Annese's direction in 2012, including beating archrival Grand Valley State in the Anchor-Bone Classic for the first time since 1999, snapping a 10-year losing streak to Michigan Tech and topping defending national runner-up Wayne State for the first time in five years.  FSU also managed to win seven games for only the second time in the past decade despite facing one of the nation's two toughest schedules in Division II football during the regular-season, according to the Massey Ratings.

National Players Of Week: Overall, a total of six different Ferris State football student-athletes combined to receive National Player of the Week honors a total of 19 times over the course of seven different weeks last season from the three primary media outlets that recognize players on a national level in Division II -, Beyond Sports Network & USA Football.

GLIAC Preseason Poll: The Ferris State University football team was selected to finish second in the 2014 GLIAC Football Coaches Preseason North Division Poll, which was released in early August in conjunction with the launch of the GLIAC Football Media Day website. The Bulldogs received 42 points in the balloting, which was conducted by the conference's 15 head coaches. This year marks the fourth time the league's preseason gridiron poll has been seperated by divisions. In the North Division, Grand Valley State was picked first with 49 points and seven first-place votes. Saginaw Valley State placed behind FSU in third with 35 points and one first-place vote.  Defending champion Ohio Dominican was chosen to win the GLIAC South.

The 106th Season: The 2014 campaign represents the Bulldogs' 106th season of varsity competition.  The program actually began in 1900, but no football was played in 1908-09, 1917-18, 1932 and from 1942-45 for various reasons.  Additionally, no scores are available from either the 1912 or 1916 seasons.  Ferris has posted an all-time record of 393-436-40 (.475) to date heading into the 2014 campaign.

The Schedule: The week one test will kickoff an 11-game Bulldog football slate in 2014 that features five home contests at Top Taggart Field and a 10-game GLIAC schedule.  FSU will play its GLIAC opener the following week on Sept. 13 at Northwood before hosting archrival Grand Valley State in the Anchor-Bone Classic for the home opener on Sept. 20 in Big Rapids.

Travel Schedule: The Bulldogs will make one of their longest road trips of the 2014 season in week one as they make the nearly 500-mile bus trip to Lebanon, Ill., located just outside the St. Louis area. Ferris State will depart on Wednesday morning and return following the contest overnight with a return arrival early Friday morning. Along with the trip to McKendree, the Bulldogs also will make their two longest league trips of the season in back-to-back weeks in late October as they venture to opposite ends of the GLIAC spectrum in Ohio Dominican and Michigan Tech.

Preseason All-Americans: 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).

Preseason Recognition: FSU junior quarterback and Harlon Hill Trophy candidate Jason Vander Laan has received numerous preseason national honors, including being chosen as one of the country's top 10 players to watch for 2014 by the Beyond Sports Network (BSN). He also  received national acclaim this summer by being chosen to the 2014 BSN Preseason All-America First Team and was listed as a USA Football Preseason All-American in addition to being named among the national nominees for the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Good Works Team. Finally, he was also chosen as the MES-TV Preseason GLIAC Offensive Player of the Year.

Standout Sophomore Season: A Beyond Sports Network Division II All-American last fall and Harlon Hill Trophy regional finalist, Jason Vander Laan officially broke an NCAA Division II all-time single season record in the Bulldogs' season-ending 35-22 win over Northern Michigan last season (Nov. 16) at Top Taggart Field and also claimed All-GLIAC Second Team laurels on the gridiron for FSU. The Bulldog sophomore signal caller closed the season with 1,607 yards on the ground, which far surpassed the previous national record established by Wofford's Shawn Graves in 1989. Last season, Vander Laan ranked as the nation's top running quarterback with more rushing yards on the ground than any other signal caller in the country, regardless of level. His 1,607 total yards rushing finished tops among all quarterbacks in the regular-season at the NCAA Division I, II or III level, including both the FBS and FCS levels of competition.

Coaching Staff: The Bulldog staff this season will feature a new addition in Tesfa Smith, who joined FSU during fall camp as the defensive line coach following seven seasons on the staff at fellow league member Saginaw Valley State.  He helped fill a void created by the departure of defensive coordinator Lou Esposito, who was tabbed this summer as the first-ever head coach at Davenport University. The rest of the FSU staff returns basically intact from a year ago. Rob Zeitman, who was a head coach at Grand Rapids Northview High School before moving to Ferris State, is the assistant head coach and handles the offensive line. The other full-time assistants include former Bulldog players Ryan Hodges and Sparky McEwen along with ex-Grand Valley State quarterback Ryan Brady, who has shifted to the defensive side to guide the linebackers. Meanwhile, Brad Corpe returns to coach the running backs with longtime prep head coaching legend Jack Schugars working again with the special teams.

Former Head Coach: Former Ferris State quarterback Charles "Sparky" McEwen joined head coach Tony Annese's staff two years ago as an assistant coach and directs the wide receivers.  McEwen, who played for the Bulldogs from 1987-90, spent more than a decade as a professional football coach in the Arena Football League with both the Grand Rapids Ramapge and the Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz.  He currently ranks 14th among the school's all-time passing leaders with 2,183 career yards. His son, A.J. McEwen, is a senior defensive back for the Bulldogs.

Evening Football: Three of Ferris State's first four contests of the 2014 season will be evening games.  Two of the outings are on the road, including the opener at McKendree and the final game of the opening month at Saginaw Valley State on Sept. 27. The lone evening home contest in 2014 is the home opener versus Grand Valley State (Sept. 20).  After the opening four-game stretch, the remaining seven contests this year will all be afternoon outings.

Welcome Back: The Bulldogs return 14 starters and nearly 50 letterwinners from last season

Under The Lights: Ferris is 47-56-4 (.458) in evening games (after 5 p.m. ET) going back to 1961. The Bulldogs are 17-30-2 (.367) on the road and 32-26-2 (.550) at home during that period.

Training Camp Notes: Ferris' officially opened fall camp Wednesday, Aug. 13, as the squad reported to campus for the first time. The first official practice was held Thursday, Aug. 14. Ferris' three-week training camp period not only has featured practices and scrimmages, but also meetings, lifting, conditioning, testing and various orientation sessions. FSU's final preseason scrimmage was held last Saturday (Aug. 30). Classes at Ferris State University began on Aug. 25.

Did You Know?: Ferris has had a winning season in 17 of its last 25 seasons overall.  The Bulldogs won five consecutive conference championship titles from 1992-96 and were league co-champions with Northwood in the 1999 season.

Great Production: Ferris State's 54-point output versus Grand Valley State last season was its second-highest total ever against the Lakers and was only three shy of the 57-0 triumph the Bulldogs recorded in the first-ever series meeting back in 1971 in Big Rapids. The Bulldogs' 54 total points marked the third time last year in which FSU had totaled 45 points or more in a contest and the fifth time in two years under head coach Tony Annese.  Prior to his arrival, the Bulldogs had done so only three times in the previous seven years. Overall, Ferris State scored 40 or more points in five games last fall, including a season-high 59 points at Walsh.

Powerful Offense: FSU totaled 500 yards of total offense or more five times last fall, including a season-high 615 yards in a road win over Walsh. Overall, the Bulldogs have accomplished the feat nine times in the Tony Annese era. FSU also racked up 583 yards in last fall's rivalry win over Grand Valley State. Including the Walsh game in 2013, the Bulldogs have totaled 600 yards or more in three games under Annese's direction.

Starting Early: Including special teams, a total of 12 individuals are projected to potentially make their first career starts at Ferris State on this week's two-deep lineup. However, all but one of the projected starters were in the Bulldog program last fall, unlike a year ago when seven newcomers started at North Dakota State.

School Record Rushing: Last year marked the second consecutive year in which FSU broke the single-season team rushing record under head coach Tony Annese as Ferris State finished the 2013 season with a program-best 3,491 yards on the ground. It surpassed the previous school record of 3,369 rushing yards in a season set during his first season at the FSU helm in 2012. The previous school record prior to the last two years was established in 1995 during FSU's run to the NCAA Division II Semifinals when they totaled 2,538 yards.

Non-League Games: Ferris is 11-9-0 (.550) in non-league games dating back to 1990 and has won eight of its last 12 outings, including a 35-24 road triumph over St. Francis (Ill.) two years ago (8/30/12).  Fourteen of Ferris State's last 18 non-conference games have been away from home.

Against Illinois Schools: The Bulldogs' own a current 23-11-1 mark all-time against schools from the state of Illinois.  FSU's last meeting against an Illinois team came in its 35-24 win at St. Francis to open the 2012 campaign. The Bulldogs' best record versus an Illinois team is a perfect 10-0 mark versus Illinois-Chicago in a series' that stretched from 1960-73.

Big Rushing Games: Besides his record-breaking season totals a year ago, QB Jason Vander Laan's 279 total yards rushing versus Lake Erie last year ranked as NCAA Division II's sixth-highest single game performance of the regular-season. His 279 total yards on the ground versus Lake Erie were the most by a Bulldog rusher since Andrew Terry established a NCAA record with 410 yards rushing on 38 carries against Findlay in 2004 (10/2/04) at Top Taggart Field.

Offensive Statistics: Ferris State's 492.5 yards per game last season ranked as the second-highest seasonal figure in school history. The highest mark of 534.5 yards a contest came in 1999 ...... Ferris State had a school-record 289 first downs in 2012 to top the previous single-season mark of 277 first downs set in 1995 and finished with 281 in 2013 ...... The Bulldogs' 5,417 total yards last season was the second-best mark in school seasonal history.

JV's Career Totals: Bulldog signal caller Jason Vander Laan concluded the 2013 season listed fifth all-time on the Bulldogs' career rushing list with 2,975 total yards.  He topped the 200-yard mark rushing four times last fall. He also surpassed C.J. Van Wieren (2004-07) to become the school's all-time career leader in rushing yardage by a quarterback. Vander Laan currently ranks ninth in school history in passing yards with 3,234 total yards and also ranks seventh in school history with 6,179 career yards of total offense. Overall, last year Vander Laan ranked fourth nationally in rushing touchdowns (21) along with seventh nationally in rushing yards (1,607) in 2013. Vander Laan was also eighth in the country in scoring (11.5 ppg.) and second in the GLIAC in points responsible for (216).

Rookie Record: Bulldog QB Jason Vander Laan set a new school record for most rushing yards in a single-season by any Bulldog freshman in 2012 with 1,338 total yards on the ground.  Former tailback Derek Fudge owned the previous mark with 1,227 yards during the 2000 campaign.

Fifteen-Year Streak: Ferris State rallied back from a 17-point second half deficit to beat Michigan Tech last fall (Oct. 26) at MTU's Sherman Field.  The win was the Bulldogs' first in Houghton against the Huskies in 15 years dating back to 1998. Michigan Tech had won the previous six meetings in the Upper Peninsula.  FSU has beat the Huskies in back-to-back years after originally snapping a 10-year series' losing string to MTU in Big Rapids in 2012.

Comeback Time: The Bulldogs overcame a 17-point third quarter deficit to win at Michigan Tech last season.  While Ferris State's comeback was memorable, it wasn't the Bulldogs' largest comeback in school history.  FSU rallied from a 28-0 first-quarter deficit in a 1995 home game (11/11) versus Saginaw Valley State to keep its 39-game regular-season winning streak intact with a 46-42 win in blizzard conditions.  The comeback set an NCAA-II Record for most points overcome to win a game. In 2012, the Bulldogs trailed Wayne State in Detroit 21-0 before rallying for a 35-24 win.

The Anchor-Bone Trophy: Ferris State kept possession of the Anchor Bone Trophy for another year after beating West Michigan archrival Grand Valley State in the Anchor-Bone Classic by a 54-44 count last fall (10/12/13) at FSU's Top Taggart Field. The trophy is awarded annually to the winner of the Ferris State-Grand Valley State football game. It debuted in 2002 and GVSU maintained possession of the trophy for the first nine years with five wins in Allendale along with four at FSU's Top Taggart Field. However, the Bulldogs have now won back-to-back series' meetings as FSU recorded an impressive 40-24 win at Lubbers Stadium in 2012 to claim the trophy for the first time prior to last season's win.

Video Board: Ferris State officially unveiled its new Daktronics scoreboard and sound system in conjunction with the homecoming matchup against Saginaw Valley State last fall. The new scoreboard, which includes a LED video board, was approved by the Ferris State board of trustees. It puts FSU on par or above competing schools in Division II in providing an entertaining game day experience and replaced the previous system that dated back to the 1980's.

Last Fall's Production: The Bulldogs led the GLIAC and ranked sixth nationally in rushing offense with a school-record 317.4 yards per game in 2013.  FSU was also the league leader and 12th nationally in total offense with an average of 492.5 yards per contest.  Ferris State finished second in the country in third down conversion percentage (.497). The Bulldogs also ranked as the GLIAC's second-highest scoring offense (38.8 ppg.) and were among the top 30 in the nation.

Strong Ties: The Bulldogs' projected contributors on the two-deep most weeks last season included as many as 12 players who spent time in West Michigan at Grand Rapids Community College under head coach Tony Annese's direction before embarking on their Bulldog careers.

West Michigan: The Bulldogs' two deep lineup and list of potential starters include at least 20 student-athletes from communities located in various parts of West Michigan such as Grand Rapids, East Grand Rapids, Big Rapids, Holland, Muskegon, Rockford, Greenville and more. Nearly 50 percent of FSU's projected starters last year were West Michigan natives. Besides the ties to West Michigan found among this week's potential two-deep players, the overall Bulldog roster includes nearly half of the entire FSU squad from portions of West and Northwest Michigan. 

Facing The Best: Last year the Bulldogs ran for 228 yards on the ground against a North Dakota State defense that ranked among the nation's leaders in rushing defense the previous season by allowing less than 100 yards per contest.  The week before facing FSU, the Bison allowed less than 50 rushing yards to defending Big 12 Conference Champion Kansas State in a 24-21 win. This past week, they won their fifth-straight game versus FBS competition by topping Iowa State on the road. The nearly 19,000 fans on hand at the Fargodome for last year's game against Ferris State is believed to be one of the largest crowds in which the Bulldogs have ever played in front of during school history.

Preseason First-Team Pick: Junior defensive end Justin Zimmer headlined the group of Bulldog Preseason All-Americans as he was tabbed as a USA Football Preseason First-Team All-American. 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.

More Preseason All-Americans: Ferris State had a total of seven Preseason All-Americans from various sources this year. Below is information on Ferris State's five other Preseason All-Americans outside of QB Jason Vander Laan and DE Justin Zimmer:

Corey 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.

A.J. 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.

Darnell 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.

Jake 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.

Adam 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.

Florida Connection: The Bulldogs have four players currently listed on their roster who attended Manatee High School in Bradenton, Fla., which has been the nation's number one ranked high school team several times over the last three seasons. The group includes junior slot Antonio Agurs along with redshirt freshman receiver Jajuan Pollock, defensive back Willie Smith and linebacker Chris Pompey. Additionally, the Bulldogs inked standout back Robert Thomas III on this past February's National Signing Day from Apopka (Fla.) and he was Florida's Class 8A State Player of the Year last fall.

Offensive Output: FSU's 59-point scoring output versus Walsh last year was its highest production since a 62-42 home win over Northern Michigan in 2005. Ferris scored eight offensive touchdowns and rolled up 615 yards of total offense in the road victory.

Reliving The Streak: In fitting fashion, the Bulldogs' victory over Grand Valley State last year came on the same night in which FSU celebrated "The Streak", which was the program's memorable 42-game regular season unbeaten streak from 1992-95. Former alumni from the impressive run were on hand as FSU won the Anchor-Bone Classic and beat the Lakers in back-to-back seasons for the first time since that memorable era.

About Ferris State: Ferris State University is the fastest-growing institution in Michigan with 14,600 students enrolled and is a recognized leader in preparing students for professional careers in 180 degree programs such as Pharmacy, Optometry and more. The university has a rich 128-year history and more than 120,000 living alums. FSU is located in Big Rapids, Mich., which is approximately an hour's drive north of Grand Rapids.  Ferris State has 17 varsity sports, including NCAA Division I men's ice hockey, which recently reached the national championship game at the NCAA Frozen Four in 2012.  Notable alums in athletics include NHL First-Team All-Star Chris Kunitz of the Pittsburgh Penguins and current University of Tennessee head football coach Butch Jones, who received his coaching start at Ferris State.

Liberty Mutual Award: Head Coach Tony Annese has been one of the top 15 candidates for the prestigious Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award at the Division II level each of his first two seasons at the helm. The award honors the college football coach who best exemplifies responsibility and excellence both on and off the field. In 2012, Annese was among the national semifinalists for the award in his initial season at the Bulldog helm.

Team Captains: Ferris State's team captains this year include junior quarterback Jason Vander Laan and junior left guard Adam Bennett on the offensive side of the ball along with senior cornerback A.J. McEwen and junior defensive end Justin Zimmer on the defensive side.

Sunny 97.3: Thursday's game continues the broadcast partnership between FSU Athletics and Sunny 97.3 FM.  Rob Bentley and Sandy Gholston will call the action starting with the "Bulldog Pregame" show at 7:30 p.m.  Sunny 97.3 and the Bulldog Sports Network will again carry all home and away football contests this campaign with the broadcasts streamed live online at

Bulldog Sports Network: Fans can follow all the action of Ferris State football live online via the Bulldog Sports Network multimedia portal again this season.  A live audio and video pay-per-view webcast will be offered for all home games with free audio for all road contests.  The package also includes live stats, live chat and a live blog at select times. Visit for more info.

Home Ticket Information: Season and single-game tickets for the 2014 home campaign are currently on sale now.  Fans are encouraged to buy tickets in advance this season for a discount over the normal gameday rates.  For more info on ticket sales, please contact the FSU Athletics Ticket Office at (231) 591-2888 or

Bulldog Gameday: Complete information on every Bulldog home and road contest this year can be found by visiting the Bulldog Gameday page on the FSU Athletics Website at (click on football and then Gameday).  The Gameday information, which will be updated several days prior to each game, includes links to all pertinent notes and statistics for both teams as well as links for the respective broadcast and internet media coverage available for the contest.

Yearbook Available Online: The 2014 Ferris State University Football Yearbook is available to view as an online publication. The publication features such information as 2014 player rosters, season outlook, player biographies, coaching staff information, 2013 season statistics, career and season statistical records, series records, game records, etc.  Visit the FSU athletics website at to find the publication online.

More Radio Coverage: Ferris State Football will be featured throughout the year as part of the "Bulldog Sports Update", which will air Monday thru Friday at 7:30 a.m. (ET) on Sunny 97.3 FM.  Additionally, the football team will also be featured at various times on "Ferris State Friday's", which can be heard at 7:30 a.m. (ET) on Grand Rapids' WBBL as part of "The Sports Brothers" (starting Sept. 12). 

Below Is A Listing Of Preseason & Returning Award Recipients:

Jason Vander Laaan:
MES-TV Preseason GLIAC Player of the Year
Beyond Sports Network Top 10 Player To Watch
Beyond Sports Network First-Team Preseason All-American
Beyond Sports Network Preseason All-GLIAC First Team
USA Football Third-Team Preseason All-American Third-Team Preseason All-American
AFCA Good Works Team National Nominee
Detroit Free Press Preseason All-Michigan Team
Beyond Sports Network Honorable Mention All-American (2013)
Harlon Hill Trophy Award Regional Finalist (2013)
All-GLIAC Second Team (2013) 

Justin Zimmer:
USA Football Preseason First-Team All-American
Beyond Sports Network Preseason All-GLIAC First Team
Detroit Free Press Preseason All-Michigan Team
Capital One Academic All-America Second Team (2013)
All-GLIAC First Team (2013)

Corey Stone:
USA Football Third-Team Preseason All-American
All-GLIAC Second Team (2013)

Adam Bennett:
USA Football Honorable Mention Preseason All-American
Detroit Free Press Preseason All-Michigan Team
All-GLIAC Honorable Mention (2013)
Darnell Morris:
USA Football Third-Team Preseason All-American
All-GLIAC Honorable Mention (2013)
A.J. McEwen:
USA Football Third-Team Preseason All-American
All-GLIAC Honorable Mention (2013)
Jake Lampman:
USA Football Honorable Mention Preseason All-American
All-GLIAC Honorable Mention (2013)
Justin Glover:
All-GLIAC Honorable Mention (2013)