Ferris football players start practices on Monday

Ferris football players hope to be doing a lot of celebrating again this season

BIG RAPIDS —  Junior running back Marvin Campbell and senior linebacker Avonte Bell were two standouts who represented FSU at the Great Lake Conference media day in Detroit on Monday and expressed their appreciation for the example set by former Bulldogs now in the NFL.

When receiver Keyondre Craig joined the San Francisco 49ers as a free agent earlier this year, he became the 22nd player unofficially in Bulldog history to join an NFL organization as a free agent. He’s now among 10 different FSU standouts who have earned opportunities in the National Football League over the past year as the Bulldogs had a NCAA Division II best seven former players take part in NFL training camps last summer.

“For them being in the league is a great stepping stone and bring eyes to it,” Bell said. “Some of them aren’t just in the league but are bringing something special to each team. They’re opening eyes for players to come to Ferris knowing we have talent here. It’s opened up a lot of opportunities for us.”

Campbell agreed.

“From those guys putting in their hard work in the past, they open up doors for the future,” he said. “It’s great having it there.”

Coach Tony Annese, Bell and Campbell were asked to answer the question, the 2019 season is a success if:

“We keep on sticking to the same formula,” Annese said. “It’s focusing on the here and now and that the past is the past. We can’t feel like we’ve done something. People who feel they’ve accomplished too much become complacent. There’s a lot of great teams in this league. We need to focus on Ferris State. If we do that, we’ll have a lot of success.”

“We have to come in week in and week out, keep our focus and take it a week at a time.” Campbell said.

“We have to play how we know we can play,” Bell said. “We have to play our game, and have fun with each other.”

Ferris, the preseason GLIAC favorite, and a consensus top two team nationally in every Division II preseason poll, officially reports for the 2019 campaign with big expectations again as fall camp opens this coming weekend in Big Rapids.

The Bulldogs’ newcomers and veterans will hit campus on Sunday for player check-in and meetings along with orientation activities. The Bulldogs will hold their first full team practice on Monday afternoon. FSU will practice once per day under the NCAA’s guidelines and restrictions.

Ferris’ training camp period will not only feature practices and scrimmages, but also meetings, lifting, conditioning, testing, orientation sessions and more leading up to the season opener. FSU will also hold its annual Media/Photo Day on the afternoon of Aug. 30.

FSU will begin its eighth season this fall under head coach and two-time Football Gazette Regional Coach of the Year Tony Annese and is expected to contend for its sixth-straight NCAA Division II playoff appearance with the return of nearly 60 letterwinners from a year ago.

The Bulldogs will open the 2019 campaign with high expectations after a historic season last fall that saw FSU reach the NCAA Division II National Championship game for the first time in school history.

The Bulldogs are presently listed first in the country entering the year by both the Massey Ratings and the CompughterRatings.com polls. FSU was also tabbed second behind defending national champion Valdosta State by three other sources, including Lindy’s Sports, Street & Smith’s and College Football America.

This year marks the fourth time in the past five years the Bulldogs have been tabbed as one of the country’s top three teams in at least one preseason national ranking.

The Bulldogs will begin their 111th season of varsity competition this coming fall with their sights set on making a sixth consecutive trip to the NCAA Division II playoffs. FSU returns 18 starters from last fall’s historic campaign.

Along with reaching the national title game, the Bulldogs captured the GLIAC Championship in 2018 and won the Super Region Three title by winning their first four NCAA playoff games en route to a historic run. The four playoff wins included FSU’s first-ever National Semifinal victory at Minnesota State. Recently, SB Nation labeled FSU as Michigan’s best football team of 2018 regardless of division.

Ferris State will open the 2019 season at home under the lights on Thursday, Sept. 5, against the Findlay Oilers in non-league action at Top Taggart Field. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

Ferris State Athletics also contributed to this report.

 

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Posted by John Raffel

John is a sports reporter with the Pioneer as well as the Herald Review and The Lake County Star. He also coordinates the weekly Pioneer sports outdoors page. He can be reached at (231) 592-8356 or by email at jraffel@pioneergroup.com.

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