Ferris State brings in statement class

Everyone likes a winner. And recruits — star players from winning programs across the state — think that winning is what Tony Anesse will do at Ferris State after his first season. The Bulldogs had a huge presence in The Lake’s recruiting area, while also adding significant Eastside and juco talent. Ferris also offered recruits that magic pill — playing time.

“If  you’re good enough to play, you’ll play right now,” Anesse said at the press conference announcing the Bulldogs’ class.

Ferris target the Lake Michigan area, and prospered. Here are Ferris State’s local recruits, with overall final top 100 ranking:

  • 2. Ryheem Stokes  5-10  170  ATH  Grand Rapids Catholic Central
  • 4. Brandon Moore  6-4  190  WR  Montague
  • 17. KC Zenner  6-0  190  DB  Rockford
  • 20. Jake Daugherty  6-3  275  OL/DL  Big Rapids
  • 29. Ato Condole  6-1  180  WR/DB  Holland West Ottawa
  • 32. Greg Krusniak  6-7  235  TE  Greenville
  • 36. Tristan Eickenroth  6-1  210  ATH   Kingsley
  • 43. Jahaan Brown  6-0  180  RB  East Grand Rapids
  • 52. David Mann  6-6  255  OL  Kalamazoo Loy-Norix
  • 59. Chris Bradford  5-8  165  DB  Muskegon Mona Shores
  • 63. Alex Vandevusse  6-1  185  QB  Grand Rapids Christian
  • 81. Lincoln Mulder  6-2  220  TE/DL  Holland Christian

The two outliers are Ryheem Stokes and Brandon Moore. Both are borderline Big 10 prospects, who through various circumstances landed in D2. Stokes was the best player whenever he was on the field, be it as a DB, receiver, running back. He was at least a couple media outlets’ West Michigan player of the year — and yes, Drake Harris was in their coverage area. Stokes is everything Ferris lacked last year in the defensive backfield — a legit playmaker.

“He’s a Division I talent,” Annese said. “This is one outstanding athlete.”

So is Moore, would could’ve been a scholarship basketball player had he chosen that route.

“He’s a dynamic receiver,” Annese said. “He’s an athlete who can run and catch, but he’s also a big-bodied kid. After he committed to Ferris a Division I program came in and wanted to get him to switch, but Brandon stuck with us.”

Both players give Ferris potential game changers. A couple guys will be competing down the line to get the ball two them — QBs Alex Vandevusse of D3 state champion Grand Rapids Christian and Landon Grove from up in Gladwin. Vandevusse put up amazing numbers for GR Christian en route to their state title. He moves better than Grove. But Grove, a standout from our senior camp in December, is stronger with a bigger arm at 6-2 215.

After Stokes and Moore, the next highest-rated seniors in Ferris’ class are right down 131, and local. Anesse coached at Jenison and Muskegon, he knows all about Rockford football, a program which is one of only two in the state with more than one alumnus in the NFL. When you get the Rams’ top player, it’s like a defacto D1 talent. That’s what KC Zenner is, and might have been legally as well if it weren’t for a knee injury. To say expectations for him are high would be an understatement.

“KC is a winner,” Anesse said. “He’s the kind of guy that in four or five years will be leading us to a national championship. He’s a leader in every way.”

Jake Daugherty is the big boy down the block from Ferris. He’s slotted so highly due to his athleticism — he played linebacker for Big Rapids at 6-3, 275. With the light feet and aggressive field demeanor, Daugherty has the potential to do good things as on offensive lineman.

A couple Ferris recruits could share the “look the part” award. While his West Ottawa teammate, Saginaw Valley State signee Ryan Verhelst, was ranked higher because of his ball skills, Ato Condole is a little bigger, a little faster and more explosive. Another pure speed guy is Chris Bradford from Mona Shores. Greg Krusniak has the frame for good weight at 6-7, 235, and the hands and long stride to be a yardage threat. On the line, Loy-Norrix’ David Mann is like Krusniak, a prospect who could break through once he adds some weight. Krusniak would’ve been a higher level recruit if he’d done the camp circuit instead of played AAU basketball.

“You can’t coach 6-7,” Anesse said. “He’s a steal.”

Rugged runners? How about these two backs, 6-1, 210 Tristan Eikenroth from Kingsley, and 6-0, 180 Jahaan Brown straight from the East Grand Rapids tailback plant. How tough are these guys? Even with its history, no EGR back ever carried it 40 times in a game like Brown did against GR Christian; while Eikenroth played part of the season with a broken arm. As the offensive skill positions swell with young talent, either of these guys could move to the defensive side.

Holland Christian’s Lincoln Mulder doesn’t come in with the accolades as some of the other players, but is the kind of versatile athlete at 6-2, 220 that will fit in at H-back.

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