BIG RAPIDS – With the start of a new college football season just days away, Ferris State finds itself hosting auditions for its starting quarterback for the first time in four seasons.
Gone is four-year starter and two-time Harlon Hill Trophy winner Jason Vander Laan, who rewrote the college football record books by becoming the all-time rushing leader (5,953 yards) for a quarterback and the first player to pass and rush for 1,000 yards each in four seasons.
Signed by the New York Jets as an undrafted free agent, Vander Laan was playing as a tight end but has since been released by the organization.
After serving as backup to Vander Laan the previous few seasons, senior Trevor Bermingham is the likely favorite to win the starter’s job. However, Bermingham has some company at the top, including a pair of Division I transfers.
"The door’s wide open. I just think it’s silly for anyone to take the desire for a young person to want to start, so let them fight it out,” coach Tony Annese said. “Trevor’s grown a lot, being Jason’s backup, he’s really good. But there are other guys out there that are really good, too. They’re great young men. They love each other. And whoever’s named the quarterback, the others are going to root for him. That’s how it works here."
Bermingham was the team’s top punter a year ago, netting an average of 38.5 yards over 22 punts. Under center, Bermingham completed 24-of-31 passing for 282 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 59 yards and two scores.
Juniors Reggie Bell and Bret Mooney have both made their way to Big Rapids via Division I institutions, with Bell transferring from Eastern Michigan.
Bell appeared in 17 games for the Eagles over two seasons, completing 140-of-243 passes for 1,615 yards and 11 touchdowns while rushing for 680 yards and four scores.
Mooney comes from Colgate (N.Y.), where he saw limited action in two seasons.
Also in the mix are redshirt freshmen John Higgins and Travis Russell.
Ferris State opens its season against Ohio Dominican Thursday at Top Taggart Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
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