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Ferris State Relying on Experience, Love in 2021

BIG RAPIDS – Tony Annese has built Ferris State into one of the premier college football programs in Division II. But ask him what’s at the heart of it, and you get a word you don’t often think about when talking about a punishing sport like football: love.

“The catalyst of our greatness is love,” Annese said. “Love brings so many things. The biggest thing it brings to people is power. You know, it gives them a sense of ‘somebody loves me.’ And our guys feel that. You can see it just on the field.”

Bulldog players back up Annese’s claim to have built the program on a foundation of love. Between redshirt seasons and extra years of eligibility due to Covid-19, Ferris State’s roster is loaded with fifth, sixth and even seventh-year players.

Why do they stick around for so long? It all comes back to love.

“[Annnese] goes out of his way to make sure that we have what we need and just to be the best coach that he can be. He actually cares and loves us,” said Jake Boonstra, a sixth-year offensive lineman.

With so many returning players from two years ago (Ferris State did not play in 2020 due to Covid-19) and a pedigree of success, expectations are high for the Bulldogs once again.

“Being here for seven years, it brings a lot of experience back to the table,” said seventh-year running back Marvin Campbell. “[There’s] a lot of people who have seen how to do the right things.”

Love may sound odd in the hard-hitting world of college football, but so does a seventh-year running back.

Ferris State will rely on both in 2021.