Ferris Begins Preparations For 2007 Season; Spring Game To Be Held April 20

Jake Visser
Junior defensive tackle Jake Visser spearheads the Ferris State defense after earning All-America honorable mention honors last season.

The 2007 Ferris State University football team will start preparations for this upcoming season next Tuesday, March 27, as the Bulldogs begin their spring practice drills.

Expectations are high after Ferris State concluded the 2006 campaign at 8-3-0 overall, which represented the program's most single-season victories since 1996. The Bulldogs, who compiled a third-place 7-3-0 mark in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC), also finished the year ranked 17th in NCAA Division II by Don Hansen's Football Gazette's final Top 40 poll and 22nd nationally in the D2Football.com's final Top 25 poll.

Head coach Jeff Pierce will have in excess of 80 student-athletes participating in the 15 practices, which will be capped by the annual Crimson and Gold Spring Game on Friday, April 20 at FSU's Top Taggart Field. Opening kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. (EDT) and admission to the game is free.

"We're excited to get back on the field and start practice," said Pierce, who embarks on his 13th year at Ferris State this fall and is the program's all-time winningest coach. "We took a big step forward last season in getting the program back to a high level of success and that has carried over into the offseason with our weightlifting and conditioning program. The overall attitude of the team has been really positive."

"I expect this spring to be a highly-competitive one," Pierce stated. "In some areas we lost a lot of experienced players due to graduation so we're looking for a lot of guys to step up and fill those roles. Having solid depth is also critical to a team's success so this will be an important spring for our younger players to step up and assume greater responsibilities."

The Bulldogs are led by junior defensive tackle Jake Visser (Coopersville), a 2006 honorable mention All-America selection by both D2Football.com and Don Hansen's Football Gazette. The 2006 All-GLIAC First-Team lineman finished second among Ferris' 2006 tackles leaders with 86 stops (52 solos) as an 11-game starter. The two-time (2005-06) FSU Most Valuable Defensive Lineman finished ninth nationally this past season in pass sacks per game (1.0 avg.). Defensive tackle-end Kurt Hout (Arvada, Colo./West) returns for his senior year after attaining second-team all-conference laurels and FSU Outstanding Defensive Rookie accolades last fall. Hout transferred to Ferris from Northern Colorado prior to the 2006 campaign and was in on 35 tackles (18 solos) in 10 contests. Defensive end Erik Schumacher (Lake Isabella/Beal City) garnered honorable mention all-conference honors last year as a junior in which the 2006 FSU Most Improved Defensive Player totaled 42 tackles (20 solos) as a starter in all 11 outings.

Bill Bourdlais
Senior guard Bill Bourdlais is the lone returning starter on the Bulldogs' offensive line.

Offensively, senior Bill Bourdlais (Newberry) headlines the list of returnees as the 10-game starter returns to his right guard post where he earned all-conference first-team kudos a season ago. He's joined by senior slot back Robert Miller (Carson, Calif.), who earned second-team All-GLIAC plaudits last season after pacing the Bulldogs in four statistical categories. He led the squad in both rushing (531 yards) and receiving (34 catches for 399 yards).

"With our success last season, the guys are now hungry and driven to succeed," said Pierce. "They realize if we want to take this program to the next level then they must take their game to the next level. It's now a question of who's going to step up and play at the level you need to be a championship contender."

FSU will generally conduct practices on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday of each week in late March and April from 3:30-5:30 p.m. (EDT) on the South Campus practice grass fields and will move to Top Taggart Field if wet field conditions exist.

Ferris State will kickoff its 99th season of varsity competition Saturday, Sept. 1, against the Kentucky State Thorobreds in a 7 p.m. (EDT) non-conference contest at Top Taggart Field in Big Rapids. The Bulldogs, who will play an 11-game regular-season schedule, will open GLIAC action the following Saturday, Sept. 8, at home versus the Mercyhurst Lakers. A 7 p.m. (EDT) start time is scheduled for the conference opener.

Ferris State Football

2007 Spring Practice Schedule

Practice #1 - Tuesday, March 27, 3:30 p.m. (Non-pads)
Practice #2 - Thursday, March 29, 3:30 p.m. (Non-pads)
Practice #3 - Friday, March 30, 3:30 p.m.
Practice #4 - Saturday, March 31, 11 a.m.
Practice #5 - Tuesday, April 3, 3:30 p.m.
Practice #6 - Thursday, April 5, 8:30 a.m.
Practice #7 - Thursday, April 5, 3 p.m.
Practice #8 - Friday, April 6, 11 a.m. (Scrimmage at Top Taggart Field)
Practice #9 - Tuesday, April 10, 3:30 p.m.
Practice #10 - Thursday, April 12, 3:30 p.m.
Practice #11 - Friday, April 13, 3:30 p.m.
Practice #12 - Saturday, April 14, 11 a.m. (Scrimmage at Top Taggart Field)
Practice #13 - Tuesday, April 17, 3:30 p.m.
Practice #14 - Thursday, April 19, 3:30 p.m.(Non-pads)
Practice #15 - Friday, April 20, 6 p.m. (Annual Crimson and Gold Spring Game)
NOTE -- All Eastern (ET) start times and locations are subject to change.

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