Ferris State trying to reload on defense for 2018 season

BIG RAPIDS, Mich. -- Ferris State won at least 11 games last year for the fourth consecutive season, and its defense was a big reason why.

"We had 14 seniors and a junior that opted out early for the NFL draft," head coach Tony Annese said. "Three of those guys are playing on NFL teams now."

"That is how you become good on defense, is you have great players, and we had them."

This season, the Bulldogs are nearly starting over. Sophomore linebacker Sam Heyboer is the leading returning tackler after making 26 stops in 2017.

"We had so many leaders and so much senior talent on the team," Heyboer said. "That is what we are looking for this year. Now we just need leaders to step up and come to the party."

The Bulldogs might not be able to do things on defense quite as they did last year, because the personnel are so different, but they still expect to have success.

"It is a brand new team. We are trying to find a new identity. We don't want to hang our hat on recent success," senior safety Danny Collins said. "It is our time right. Now we want build our own foundation and build success for the younger guys leading up."

Ferris State begins the 2018 season by hosting East Stroudsburg on Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. at Top Taggart Field.

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