Alumni return to old stomping ground

Alumni day brings together Ferris football legends

Football programs are built on tradition, and it is always important to honor the heroes of the past.

This past Saturday’s Ferris football game saw a ton of action on and off the field. The Bulldogs beat the Cardinals of Saginaw Valley 34-10, but the other story was about the alumni that were honored at the game.

Ferris invited its alumni football players back for recognition in front of the nearly sold out crowd. Among the teams to be recognized were the 1994 Bulldogs on the 25th anniversary of their 11-1 season in which they won their division and advanced to the playoffs. The 1999 team who won the GLIAC Conference and the 2014 team that saw the Bulldogs go 11-1 and advance to the playoffs were also recognized.

After the first quarter, alumni from the three teams were welcomed in the north endzone.

Among the players recognized were former star running back Chris Pulliams with his former teammate, tackle Sean Flemming. Pulliams ran the ball for the Bulldogs from 1993 through 1996, with a legendary 1995 season that saw him rush for 1,729 yards and 23 scores.

Playing football for the Bulldogs is an experience that connects players of all classes, giving them a bond spanning generations.

“It’s always good to see guys who share special moments with each other. We all grew up together. Even if its guys who played in ‘99 or 2014, we all share something in common,” Pulliams said. “At the end of the day, we’re all Bulldogs.”

Flemming called the football program a “common ground” for players, current and former alike. Being on a Bulldog football team is an experience that only those who live it truly understand.

“No matter when you played, you are part of a special group of men that went through the same stuff as you did and you have that point of reference,” Flemming said. “It gives you an opportunity to bond with that person, even though you weren’t there at the same time.”

Pulliams’ favorite football memory at Ferris actually came against the same opponent that Ferris was playing Saturday, Saginaw Valley State. In 1995, Pulliams led a 28-point comeback that saw him rush for 327 yards and four touchdowns.

“Beating Saginaw Valley on this field my junior year is probably my favorite moment. Being down by 28 points and coming back and winning that game, the defense came together, the offense came together, all three phases of the game, we had a common goal. And that goes for that entire team, we went into every game believing we would win,” Pulliams said.

The game on Saturday brought together alumni from many decades, including former player John Cochrane, who played for the Bulldogs from 1977 through 1980.

“It was the time of my life I’ll tell you that, still some of my best friends in the world came from right here,” Cochrane said. “It was very enjoyable; I grew up in a small town, so this was big time for me. The football program gave me a leg up. It means dedication, I dedicated myself for the team. The football program has meant a lot in my life.”