As the sports world does its part to fight against COVID-19, many former Ferris football players are continuing to fight for an NFL roster position.
Ferris has seven former players with NFL franchises, which is the most of any NCAA Division II college in the country. With five players on the defensive side of the ball and two on the offensive side, the former Bulldogs look to make an impact at the next level.
When defensive end Austin Edwards left Ferris after his impactful senior season, he was Ferris’s first ever Gene Upshaw Award winner, and the first defensive player since 2005 to win the GLIAC player of the year award. Edwards senior season earned him an invitation to the EastWest Shrine bowl that was played back in January.
After going undrafted in the 2020 NFL Draft, he was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Atlanta Falcons.
With different years of experience in the NFL, each former Bulldog will look to impress and fight for a key spot on their respective teams. Tavierre Thomas is entering his third season for the Browns and has developed into a valuable member of their special teams’ core. Thomas first started with the Arizona Cardinals in 2018 before he was signed by the Browns. In two seasons since joining the Browns, Thomas has 17 tackles, a blocked field goal, and has average 20.4 yards per kick return.
Zach Sieler was the first Bulldog ever to be drafted to an NFL team when the Baltimore Ravens took him 238th overall in the seventh round of the 2018 NFL draft. In his first two seasons, Sieler stayed with the Ravens and logged six regular season games before he moved to the Miami Dolphins and recorded eight tackles and one sack in three appearances. He was resigned by the Dolphins for the 2020 season.
Defensive Tackle Justin Zimmer will be entering his second season in the NFL. He started as a part of the Atlanta Falcons in 2018 before signing with Cleveland Browns for a season in 2019, and now Zimmer is a member of the Buffalo Bills.
Vander Laan played quarterback in college but quickly changed into a tight end. Vander Laan was an undrafted free agent in 2016 and signed with the New York Jets. From there he went to the Indianapolis Colts in 2017, and then to the Carolina Panthers in 2018 before he became a member of the New Orleans Saints. Due to COVID-19 concerns, Vander Laan has selected to opt out of the 2020 NFL season.
Defensive tackle Brady Sheldon is entering his fourth season in the NFL after signing as an undrafted free agent with the Oakland Raiders. He spent a year with the Raiders practice squad, appearing in two games. After spending a full season on the Cincinnati Bengals practice squad in 2018 he appeared in one game for the Bengals in 2019. He is entering his third season with the team.
Wide receiver Malik Taylor is entering his second season in the league after spending a season on the Green Bay Packers practice squad. While the alums battle against the uncertainties of the coronavirus pandemic, they are still focused on earning a roster spot in the NFL.
Since the NFL’s preseason has been cancelled, the regular season is set to debut on Thursday, Sept. 10 with Kansas City Chiefs hosting the Houston Texans.