Big Rapids, Mich. - With National Football League (NFL) preseason training camps getting underway, the Ferris State University football program will be well-represented this year.
A total of seven different Bulldog Football alums will contend for roster spots as the NFL franchises begin preparations for the 2018 campaign.
The Bulldogs' NFL hopefuls include former two-time Harlon Hill Trophy winner Jason Vander Laan (Carolina Panthers), wide receiver Jake Lampman (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), linebacker Brady Sheldon (Cleveland Browns), defensive tackle Justin Zimmer (Atlanta Falcons), defensive tackle Chris Okoye (Cincinnati Bengals), cornerback Tavierre Thomas (Arizona Cardinals) and defensive end Zach Sieler (Baltimore Ravens).
Among the group, three have appeared in an NFL regular-season game in the past two seasons.Two seasons ago, Lampman became the first FSU player in 13 years to play on football's biggest stage in regular-season action while he was with the New Orleans Saints while both Vander Laan (Indianapolis Colts) and Sheldon (Oakland Raiders) were called up to the active roster with their respective organizations at the time late last fall.
In late April, Sieler became Ferris State's first-ever NFL Draft choice when he was picked in the seventh round as the 238th overall selection by the Ravens.
Sieler and the Ravens, who began camp last week, will open the NFL preseason action as they take on the Chicago Bears in the Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 2 in Canton, Ohio. The preseason concludes on Aug. 30 with the opening regular-season action set for Sept. 6-10.
The seven Bulldog alums currently with NFL organizations represents the most in school history. Over the past six years, they've helped the Bulldogs become a national power on the Division II level under head coach Tony Annese, who has compiled the best winning percentage of all 21 collegiate programs in Michigan along with the GLIAC with a 60-14 overall mark in his tenure.