By Danny Collins
FSU Football Student-Athlete
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Big Rapids, Mich.- The Ferris State University football program welcomed its future Bulldogs, who came as some of the nation's most touted prospects, to the squad as a part of National Signing Day on Wednesday (Feb. 7) with a press conference announcement that took place in the Ewigleben Sports Complex.
National Signing Day is a day that celebrates the success of high school athletes worldwide as their abilities on the field and the classroom in high school have given them the opportunity to continue their athletic careers at the collegiate level. The athletes signed their National Letters of Intent at their respected high schools to finalize their contract to become a collegiate student-athlete at Ferris State University.
Ferris State football prides itself on a family atmosphere where the coaching staff is your second family and will do anything to help you succeed athletically and academically.
Bulldog Head Coach Tony Annese and the coaching staff truly care about their incoming recruits even beyond just the football field - instead they welcome them into the culture and tradition that is Ferris State Football.
"We feel as a program that we are continually growing and we are at a point in time where we are in hot-pursuit of a national championship and that is something we can sell to the kids we recruit," said Annese.
The back-to-back NCAA Division II National Quarterfinalist Ferris State Bulldogs welcomed a very distinct and diverse 28-member class. The class features athletes that have had previous championship experience, including almost all of them receiving all-state accolades.
"This class is 28 players and we do not recruit for attrition," said Annese. " We are expecting to get 28 kids through school here and that's the formula we've operated on the last few years."
FSU's 2018 class features 10 highly-recruited defensive prospects and 18 offensive prospects.
Last season, the Bulldogs were ranked in the top 15 nationally in total defense and first in total defense in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) by only allowing 15.2 points per game and only 281.1 yards total per game.
The Bulldogs brought in five prospects in the secondary, four on the defensive line and one solo linebacker to add to this stout defensive unit.
Last season, the squad was third in total offense in the GLIAC by averaging 31.5 points per game. Offense has been a staple of Ferris State University football over the years with head coach Tony Annese's pistol triple option attack.
The team added six offensive linemen, three wide receivers, four slots, three potential quarterbacks, a tight end and a running back to fit the Bulldogs' powerful offensive system.
The team swarmed the state of Michigan with 17 coming from within the state, including several from home in West Michigan. The Bulldogs also continued their highly-successful pipeline to West Florida, inking six talented performers from the Sunshine State, in addition to standout signees from California, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Ohio.
The highly-recruited class of 28 members has a wide variety of expectations and a tradition of Bulldog excellence to carry on as they arrive to campus next August for football camp.
Coach Annese, who just recently finished his sixth season as head coach of the Bulldogs, has placed Ferris State on the map among the top Division II programs in the country. He has been named as the Super Region Coach of the Year twice in his career at FSU and is presently the winningest active coach in the country.
The Ferris State football program has achieved a 60-14 overall record in the last six years and the Bulldogs have also posted the best winning percentage of all 21 collegiate programs in the state of Michigan along with the GLIAC during that stretch. In his time at the Bulldog helm, Coach Annese has led Ferris State to two conference titles in 2014 and 2015.
This past fall, the Bulldogs made their fourth consecutive appearance in the NCAA Division II Playoffs and also reached the national quarterfinal round for the second-straight year. In 2016, the Bulldogs reached the national semifinals in the Division II playoffs before losing to Northwest Missouri State, who would go on to be the NCAA Division II National Champions.
The culture and atmosphere the coaching staff and current players at FSU have developed cannot be matched anywhere else. The tradition continues with each new class that the team brings in and this class is sure to be no different.
"Everyone sells culture and culture is a word great teams use and a word poor teams use," said Annese. " I am determined to do it the right way and truthfully educate people on who we are. I want people to know who I am, who their teammates will be, what academic programs we offer, and what people say about Ferris State. Recruits chose us based on our culture and the comfortability with knowing who I am, who our coaches are, who are players are, and what Ferris State University represents."
The winning tradition that has been established by Coach Annese and the Bulldogs over the past six seasons has allowed FSU to receive commitments from some of the best high school football players across the country in recent years and this year's class is expected to be no different.
Committing to Ferris State is a commitment to faith, order, love, and discipline, which is what FSU football prides itself on as their pillars of success. A new group will come "In The Fold" following their announcements on national signing day.
The current Ferris State football team begins their offseason winter conditioning on Monday (Feb. 12) and already looks forward to the arrival of this year's class this coming summer.