Ferris Begins Preparations For 2009 Season; Spring Game To Be Held April 24

Tim Hogue
The Bulldogs open spring drills next week with a number of talented players returning, including junior slot Tim Hogue

The 2009 Ferris State University football team will start preparations for this upcoming season next Tuesday, March 31, as the Bulldogs begin their spring practice drills.

Head coach Jeff Pierce and his staff will have in excess of 85 student-athletes participating in the 15 practices, which will be capped by the annual Crimson and Gold Spring Game on Friday, April 24, at FSU's Top Taggart Field. Opening kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. (EDT) and admission to the game is free.

"Spring ball gives us a great opportunity to measure the progress we've made in our offseason strength and conditioning program," said Pierce, who embarks on his 15th year at Ferris State this fall and is the program's all-time winningest coach. "It will also enable us to evaluate the talent we have in our program and help us develop younger players.

"We've excited about this spring and the potential to improve our squad in all phases of the game," Pierce added.

The Bulldogs are expected to return more than 40 letterwinners for the 2008 campaign, including 12 starters with eight on the offensive side of the ball and four coming back defensively.

"We have some shoes to fill on our defensive unit, but it will be exciting to watch some new kids step up to the plate this spring and compete for those positions," Pierce said. "In terms of offense, we had a number of young players gain valuable experience last fall and it will be interesting to see how far they've progressed in the offseason."

Offensively, the Bulldogs will welcome back four of five starters along the line of scrimmage. Talented junior slot Tim Hogue (Dearborn/Inkster) returns after winning team Most Valuable Offensive Skill Player laurels in 2008 while sophomore Tom Schneider (Jerome/Addison) and senior Kyle Parrish (Garden Grove, Calif./Santiago) both are back after splitting duties at the quarterback position at various times a season ago. Ferris also has five receivers in the mix who started at least one game last year.

FSU must replace six of its front seven on the defensive side of the ball, including all three starting linebackers and a Harlon Hill Trophy candidate in three-time All-America defensive tackle Jake Visser, but three returning starters should help solidify the secondary.

A replacement must also be found for departed kicker Jim Yates, who handled virtually all of the punting and kicking chores the last two seasons. However, sophomore receiver Damien Miller (Elsie/Ovid-Elsie) is back after claiming FSU's Special Teams Player of the Year Award last campaign.

The Bulldogs will have three players who received All-Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Honorable Mention honors a season ago back this year in Hogue, senior safety Chad Wilson (Howell) and junior offensive tackle Matt Wellman (Portland). Ferris also inked 26 prep student-athletes on national signing day with several expected to contribute once they arrive in the fall.

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. The spring schedule is subject to change depending on the weather.

Ferris State will kickoff its 101st season of varsity competition Saturday, Aug. 29, against the Tiffin (Ohio) Dragons in a 7 p.m. (EDT) non-conference contest at Top Taggart Field. The game will take place during FSU "Welcome Week" activities and be part of a true "Community Football Day" atmosphere as Big Rapids High School will also open its 2009 season versus Holton earlier in the day in the same facility and a rocket football contest will be part of the FSU halftime events.

The Bulldogs, who will play an 11-game regular-season schedule, open GLIAC action the following Saturday, Sept. 5, at home versus the Ashland Eagles with kickoff also set for 7 p.m. (EDT). The game will be part of the area's annual Riverdays Festival with the traditional Fireworks Night festivities taking place following the contest.

Ferris State registered its fifth winning season in the last six years with a 6-5 overall record in 2008. It represented the program's ninth winning campaign in 14 years under Pierce and marked the 14th time in the last 20 years the Bulldogs have finished above .500 for the year. FSU was an even 5-5 in GLIAC action during the '08 campaign, which represented the program's 100th season of varsity competition.

Ferris State Football

2009 Spring Practice Schedule

Practice #1 - Tuesday, March 31, 3:30 p.m.
Practice #2 - Thursday, April 2, 3:30 p.m.
Practice #3 - Friday, April 3, 3:30 p.m.
Practice #4 - Saturday, April 4, 8 a.m.
Practice #5 - Tuesday, April 7, 3:30 p.m.
Practice #6 - Thursday, April 9, 8:15 a.m.
Practice #7 - Thursday, April 9, 3:30 p.m.
Practice #8 - Friday, April 10, 11 a.m. (Scrimmage at Top Taggart Field)
Practice #9 - Tuesday, April 14, 3:30 p.m.
Practice #10 - Thursday, April 16, 3:30 p.m.
Practice #11 - Friday, April 17, 3:30 p.m.
Practice #12 - Saturday, April 18, 11 a.m. (Scrimmage at Top Taggart Field)
Practice #13 - Tuesday, April 21, 3:30 p.m.
Practice #14 - Thursday, April 23, 3:30 p.m.
Practice #15 - Friday, April 24, 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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