Future Dawgs

Ferris State football inked 35 new recruits on signing day as the Bulldogs continue to build their program.

Future Bulldogs were announced on Wednesday as Ferris head coach Tony Annese announced the 2014 signees during a press conference at Wheeler Pavilion. The list includes 27 in-state prep athletes, six out-of-state players and two Division I transfers.

“We’re so excited about the class we have signed, and I don’t think anyone in Division II outworked us,” Annese said during the press conference. “Our morale here is so high that when recruits get here they want to be a part of that family, and that’s awesome. We are one big family and it’s a great day to be a Bulldog.”

This year’s class of incoming players has a lot to offer. According to Annese, the program brought in “85 percent of what we wanted,” as the Bulldogs’ coaching and recruiting staff delivered another great class.

Ferris heavily recruited offensive linemen, signing eight players from that pool, which is the most of any position group. The Bulldogs also signed four defensive linemen prospects, showing the attention given to the core positions of a football scheme.

“Well, in every program, the o-line is the closest group and I can see that in the o-line at Ferris, which I will gladly be a part of soon,” Ferris signee and future offensive lineman Austin Boulware said. “My first impression [of the coaching staff] was they seemed energetic about the game, and they really knew the players as people and not just a number.”

Boulware, who is one of Ferris’ six out-of-state signees, played his high school ball at Pendleton Heights in Indiana and will look to contribute to a Ferris offensive line that was one of the best in the GLIAC a season ago.

On the defensive side, Ferris added 15 new players to defensive coordinator Lou Esposito’s crew. The group includes the highly talented and sizeable defensive lineman out of Detroit Catholic Central, Chris Okoye, whose 6-foot-5-inch and 350 pound frame will contribute to an improved defensive front four.

“I feel very happy about coming to Ferris to play football; it’s a great opportunity to come in and win football games,” Okoye said. “It felt great knowing you’re coming in as a leader on the best recruiting class in the nation for Division II. I’m bringing an immediate impact because I can bring that size and speed to the interior line.”

Another recruit to pay attention to this year is Florida native and running back Robert Thomas III. Thomas re-wrote the sunshine state record books at Apopka High School, earning himself the Florida 8A Football Player of the year his senior year. Thomas broke a 29-year old Metro Conference rushing record with 2,371 yards on 230 carries this past season.

“Just go Google his name and read about him and watch that highlight film,” Annese said. “I was so nervous someone would swoop in on him. He’s a physical guy and he’s a guy that can run away from you. He [also] has great vision, so yeah, giddy is a good word.”

With another recruiting class under their belt, Ferris State will start their season preparation as the off-season reaches full swing.