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Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University football squad, which has advanced to the NCAA Division II National Semifinals, had two standouts selected to the 2018 American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Division II All-America Team as announced today by the national coaches organization.
Junior quarterback Jayru Campbell (Detroit/Cass Tech) received AFCA All-America First Team recognition with senior offensive tackle Devon Johnson (Aurora, Ill.) garnering AFCA All-America Second Team kudos. It marks the second consecutive year the Bulldogs have had two representatives on the coaches' All-America listing.
The AFCA has selected an All-America team since 1945 and currently selects teams in all five of its divisions. What makes these teams so special is that they are the only ones chosen exclusively by the men who know the players the best — the coaches themselves. Beginning this year, the AFCA has started selecting a first and second team and voting is done by member head coaches.
The AFCA's Division II All-America Selection Committee is made up of three head coaches from each of the AFCA's seven districts, one of whom serves as a district chairman, along with another head coach who serves as the chairman of the selection committee. The coaches in each district are responsible for ranking the top players in their respective districts prior to a conference call between the district chairmen and the committee chairman on which the team is chosen.
A total of 17 Ferris State players have now been named to the AFCA All-America team a combined 21 times, which is fourth most all-time among NCAA Division II schools. It also marks the fifth year in a row the Bulldogs have had a player on the AFCA All-America team. Two-Time Harlon Hill Trophy winner Jason Vander Laan became the first Bulldog player named to the AFCA squad since former defensive tackle Jake Visser in 2008 by being chosen as the squad's quarterback in both 2014 and 2015 before standout defensive tackle Zach Sieler was a two-time choice in 2016 and 2017 with cornerback Tavierre Thomas garnering laurels a year ago as well. Vander Laan, Sieler and Thomas are all three currently with National Football League (NFL) organizations.
Prior to Vander Laan, Visser's selection in 2008 had marked the sixth consecutive season in which a Bulldog player had achieved AFCA All-America First Team status. Former linebacker Kevin Myers was a two-time honoree in 2003 and 2004 followed by wide receiver Carlton Brewster in 2005, linebacker Mike Klobucher in '06 and Visser in both 2007 and 2008. In addition to Visser, Myers, Klobucher and Brewster, Ferris' impressive list of AFCA All-America picks also includes flanker Clarence Coleman (2001), kicker-punter Doc Proctor (1999), defensive tackle Kelly Chisholm (1996), quarterback Bill Love (1995), tailback Tyree Dye (1994), defensive tackle Ed Philion (1993), outside linebacker Monty Brown (1992), and running back Chuck Evans (1976) in addition to Vander Laan, Sieler and Thomas.
Campbell and Johnson represented two of the four Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) picks named to one of the two AFCA All-America squads along with Davenport defensive back Brian Williams and Ashland defensive end James Prater, Jr. FSU was also one of only five schools in the country with multiple picks on the AFCA All-America squad.
The GLIAC Player of the Year, Campbell has made the most of his first season as FSU's starting quarterback, leading the Bulldogs to their first unbeaten regular-season and conference title since 2015. A Harlon Hill Trophy finalist, Campbell leads all quarterbacks nationally in rushing yardage and is among the nation's leaders in points responsible for, passing effiency, scoring and total offense. The standout QB has completed 60% of his passes for 2,581 yards while running for a team-best 1,235 yards and 20 TD's to date. Behind his play, FSU earned a fifth-straight NCAA Division II Playoff appearance and claimed the Super Region Three Championship. Campbell has accounted for a nation-leading 45 touchdowns while helping FSU rank among the national leaders in total offense, rushing and scoring this season. Last week, Campbell was tabbeda as the Division II Conference Commissioners Association (D2CCA) Super Region Three Offensive Player of the Year.
Finally, the GLIAC's Offensive Lineman of the Year, Johnson has played a key role in helping the Bulldogs earn a fifth-straight NCAA Division II Playoff appearance. As the squad's starting left tackle, the NFL prospect made 51 consecutive starts for the Bulldogs prior to an injury in the regular-season finale, which represented a school all-time mark and was the longest streak by a Division II player in the past decade. Johnson has played a pivotal role for a Bulldog offense that ranks among the national leaders in scoring, rushing and total offense. As the backside protector for Harlon Hill Trophy finalist Jayru Campbell, Johnson earned All-GLIAC recognition for the third consecutive campaign as one of the squad's leaders up front and was an all-region first team choice. His play helped FSU notch its third unbeaten regular-season and GLIAC Championship in the past five seasons.
The Bulldogs will square off against Minnesota State in the D2 National Semifinals this Saturday (Dec. 8) in Mankato with a berth in the Dec. 15 national championship game in McKinney, Texas, on the line. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. (ET) on Saturday at Blakeslee Stadium and the game will televised online by ESPN3 nationally with radio coverage on Sunny 97.3 FM and the Bulldog Sports Network at FerrisStateBulldogs.com.