Ferris Begins Preparations For 2008 Season; Spring Game To Be Held April 25

Leonard Curry
The Bulldogs open spring drills next week with a number of talented players returning, including tailback Leonard Curry

The 2008 Ferris State University football team will start preparations for this upcoming season next Tuesday, April 1, as the Bulldogs begin their spring practice drills.

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 25, at FSU's Top Taggart Field. Opening kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. (EDT) and admission to the game is free.

"Spring ball provides a great opportunity to look at the development of the players in our program and is a critical time for us," said Pierce, who embarks on his 14th year at Ferris State this fall and is the program's all-time winningest coach. "We've had a tremendous offseason and coach (Jason) Rebrovich's strength and conditioning program has really helped with the development of our players.

"Our guys have made the physical developments and now spring ball will give us a chance to transfer the progress onto the football field," Pierce stated. "It's a process, but I expect this spring to be highly-competitive overall."

The Bulldogs will be led up front defensively in 2008 by senior defensive tackle Jake Visser (Coopersville), a consensus 2007 All-America First Team selection by a number of sources. The 2007 GLIAC Defensive Lineman of the Year also claimed ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America First Team recognition this year in addition to being one of inaugural fall recipients of the GLIAC Commissioner's Award for Athletics and Academic Excellence. Visser tallied the squad's second-highest tackles figure (106) last fall and led the squad in tackles for loss with 14.5 for minus 62 yards, which ranked fifth in the conference.

Middle linebacker Kevin Noe (Orleans/Belding) returns for his senior year to lead the linebacking corps after attaining second-team all-conference laurels in 2007 with a team-best 111 total stops. Meanwhile, cornerback Terrell Heggins (Lansing/Everett), who was also an All-GLIAC Second Team choice last fall, will be the top returning player in the secondary. He made two interceptions and broke up nine passes in his initial Bulldog campaign as a junior last year.

Offensively, the Bulldogs must find replacements for graduated quarterback C.J. Van Wieren in addition to several key skill players in Robert Miller, Kirk Covey, Mike Guevara and Nate Fricke. However, the Bulldogs welcome back four returning starters as well as several top reserves on the offensive line. FSU also returns a All-GLIAC Second Team selection in kicker/punter Jim Yates (Goshen, Ind.), who was the recipient of Ferris' Special Teams Player of the Year Award in 2007. Ferris also inked 21 prep student-athletes on national signing day.

FSU will generally conduct spring practices on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday of each week in 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 100th season of varsity competition Saturday, Aug. 30, against the Tiffin (Ohio) Dragons in a 2:30 p.m. (EDT) non-conference contest at Tiffin, Ohio. The Bulldogs, who will play an 11-game regular-season schedule, open GLIAC action the following Saturday, Sept. 6, on the road at 1 p.m. (EDT) versus the Ashland Eagles in Ashland, Ohio. FSU's home opener is slated for Saturday, Sept. 13, against the Findlay Oilers with kickoff set for 7 p.m. (EDT) at FSU's Top Taggart Field in Big Rapids, Mich.

The Bulldogs posted a 6-5 overall record on the field during the 2007 campaign, which represented the program's eighth winning campaign in 13 years under Pierce and marks the 13th time in the last 19 years the Bulldogs have finished above .500 for the year. However, the record was recently changed to 7-4 overall in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) standings, reflecting Saginaw Valley State's decision to forfeit four games this campaign. FSU placed tied for fourth in the conference as the school's final league record was 6-4 following the earned forfeit.

Ferris State Football

2008 Spring Practice Schedule

Practice #1 - Tuesday, April 1, 3:30 p.m. (Non-pads)
Practice #2 - Thursday, April 3, 3:30 p.m. (Non-pads)
Practice #3 - Friday, April 4, 3:30 p.m.
Practice #4 - Saturday, April 5, 8 a.m.
Practice #5 - Tuesday, April 8, 3:30 p.m.
Practice #6 - Thursday, April 10, 3:30 a.m.
Practice #7 - Friday, April 11, 3:30 p.m.
Practice #8 - Saturday, April 12, 11 a.m. (Scrimmage at Top Taggart Field)
Practice #9 - Tuesday, April 15, 3:30 p.m.
Practice #10 - Thursday, April 17, 3:30 p.m.
Practice #11 - Friday, April 18, 3:30 p.m.
Practice #12 - Saturday, April 19, 11 a.m. (Scrimmage at Top Taggart Field)
Practice #13 - Tuesday, April 22, 3:30 p.m.
Practice #14 - Thursday, April 24, 3:30 p.m. (Non-pads)
Practice #15 - Friday, April 25, 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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