FSU to rely on depth in 2015

LEAP: FSU freshman cornerback Jevonte Alexander (right) makes a leaping catch during spring practice Tuesday at Top Taggart Field. (Pioneer photo/Ryan Zuke)

LEAP: FSU freshman cornerback Jevonte Alexander (right) makes a leaping catch during spring practice Tuesday at Top Taggart Field. (Pioneer photo/Ryan Zuke)

Annese says position battles heating up in spring practice

BIG RAPIDS — After six spring practices, Ferris State University football coach Tony Annese has noticed a problem with his team.

However, it’s a good problem to have, he said, referring to the amount of depth he has seen at several positions.

“The energy has been unbelievable,” Annese said of spring practice. “The kids are competing hard and there’s a lot of competition for positions, which is good.”

The Bulldogs’ defense ranked fifth in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference last season, which was still in the top half of the league, but it also is the area that can be shored up the most.

By early indications, Annese said the defense should be improved.

“We have so much more depth,” he said. “On defense, we’re two-deep everywhere. With being two-deep, who knows who‘s going to be that guy. Right now, it’s not like they’re in a panic like ‘I have to start’, but by the same token, everyone comes to work with the right attitude.”

Annese did not divulge many specific individuals, but said the secondary has been the position most augmented.

“There’s a lot of guys that have gotten a lot better, so it’s really kind of hard to pinpoint one guy,” Annese said. “Our secondary has really made a lot of progress. They’re battling hard and making a lot of plays on the ball. All and all, I’m pleased with the way our defense is running around.”

Annese did mention defensive back Jaleel Canty, a transfer from Eastern Michigan, has impressed the coaching staff early on, as well as cornerback
Jevonte Alexander, who will be a sophomore next season.

“Those guys have really made a lot of progress, so we feel like that’s bolstered (the secondary),” Annese said.

The one position set in stone is quarterback, where Jason Vander Laan will lead the GLIAC’s top offense from a year ago with many of the same weapons at his disposal.

Four of his top receivers from last season are returning in Shakur Sanders, Jamel Lockett, Antonio Agurs and Kenny Feyh.

“We have a lot of weapons out there,” Sanders said. “You can’t get much better than that. Jason is throwing the ball well and getting better every day. From our younger guys to our veterans, we’re helping each other out, so it’s looking really good.”

Annese said the team’s strength at receiver might mean more passing attempts for Vander Laan next season.

“We have four guys that are really good there right now,” Annese said. “(Vander Laan) has gotten better at the pass game and we’ve slowly put more passes up from one year to the next over the last three years.”

FSU has seven more spring practices before its Crimson and Gold spring game at noon on April 18.

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Posted by Ryan Zuke

Ryan is the sports editor for the Big Rapids Pioneer, covering local prep sports and Ferris State athletics. He can be contacted at (231) 592-8363 or rzuke@pioneergroup.com.

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