Big Rapids, Mich. - Seven Ferris State University football alums will continue their quest to make National Football League (NFL) active rosters as they open preseason action starting in the coming week.
Bulldog alum and NFL Draft choice Zach Sieler (Pinckney) of the Baltimore Ravens will be the first to hit the field in game action and play his preseason opener on Thursday (Aug. 2) evening in the Hall of Fame Game against the Chicago Bears in Canton, Ohio.
Meanwhile, former Bulldog standout and two-time Harlon Hill Trophy winner Jason Vander Laan (Frankfort, Ill./Chicago Christian) and the Carolina Panthers begin preseason play next Thursday (Aug. 9) on the road against the Buffalo Bills while former FSU linebacker Brady Sheldon (Novi) plays his first preseason contest with the Cleveland Browns on the road against the New York Giants the same day.
Defensive Tackle Chris Okoye (Detroit/Catholic Central) and the Cincinnati Bengals will be at home the same evening versus the Bears while Sieler and the Ravens also play their second preseason game the same night at home against the Los Angeles Rams. Meanwhile, receiver Jake Lampman (Haslett) will make his preseason debut this year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a road contest versus the Miami Dolphins on Thursday.
Action continues next Friday (Aug. 10) when former defensive tackle Justin Zimmer (Greenville) and the Atlanta Falcons hit the road to face the New York Jets with recent FSU defensive back Tavierre Thomas (Detroit/Allen) and the Arizona Cardinals slated to play host to the Los Angeles Chargers the following night on Saturday (Aug. 11).
All seven recently began camp with their respective NFL clubs following offseason workouts and are currently on each team's 90-man roster. All NFL clubs will cut down to the 53-player limit in early September. The preseason concludes on Aug. 30 with the opening regular-season action set for Sept. 6-10.
Among the group, three have appeared in an NFL regular-season game in the past two seasons. Two seasons ago, Lampman became the first FSU player in 13 years to play on football's biggest stage in regular-season action while he was with the New Orleans Saints while both Vander Laan (Indianapolis Colts) and Sheldon (Oakland Raiders) were called up to the active roster with their respective organizations at the time late last fall.
In late April, Sieler became Ferris State's first-ever NFL Draft choice when he was picked in the seventh round as the 238th overall selection by the Ravens.
The seven Bulldog alums currently with NFL organizations represents the most in school history and the most current D2 products of any school. Over the past six years, they've helped the Bulldogs become a national power on the Division II level under head coach Tony Annese, who has compiled the best winning percentage of all 21 collegiate programs in Michigan along with the GLIAC with a 60-14 overall mark in his tenure.