President's Message to Campus - December 17, 2018
Football National Championship
Saturday our football team came up just short in the NCAA Division II finals. This was a great game in which both teams went back and forth throughout the entire contest. With 945 yards in total offense, there were only 3 punts in the game. We scored on our first play from scrimmage, an 80-yard pass from the slot receiver to a wide receiver. After Valdosta State scored, we kicked a 52-yard field goal, our longest of the season.
The score at the half was Valdosta 28 – Ferris 24. The second half continued to go back and forth and included one of the most unusual scoring plays I have seen, where our quarterback threw a ball that was going out of bounds in the end zone. A Valdosta defender jumped up, batted the ball back in bounds, and we caught it for a touchdown. You can see that play here. This made the score Valdosta 42 - Ferris 38.
Valdosta went up 49 - 38 with a little over 11 minutes in the game. In two great clutch series, our team came back with a 50-yard drive for a 30-yard field goal and then a 66-yard drive for a touchdown with 40 seconds left in the game. Unfortunately our two-point conversion attempt fell short for a final score of 49-47. We are so very, very proud of our team. They played a great game against a great team.
On Friday the football team visited two elementary schools. This example of community support is beautifully captured in this video. Throughout the season our team has proudly represented our University and brought much recognition to our school. The week included national individual honors for the football team. On Thursday quarterback Travis Russell was honored with the NCAA’s Elite 90 Award.
The Elite 90 award is presented on an annual basis at each of the nation's 90 NCAA Championships and recognizes the top scholar-athlete at the finals site for their outstanding work in the classroom and holding the highest grade point average. A junior, he holds a 3.73 GPA in marketing. The award was presented during a special team championship celebration honoring the two final football teams.
Friday it was announced that junior quarterback Jayru Campbell was selected to receive the Harlon Hill Trophy. This is similar to the Heisman Trophy and is awarded to the most outstanding player in Division II football. As this year's winner, he will be honored at the Little Rock Touchdown Club awards banquet on Jan. 10, 2019. The finalists were selected by the NCAA Division II sports information directors in regional voting and were placed on the national ballot where all 168 of the division's SIDs selected the award's 33rd winner. This is the third time in five years that a Ferris State University player has received the Harlon Hill Trophy. Quarterback Jason VanderLaan was selected for this award in 2014 and 2015.
The support on campus, in local communities and with alumni throughout the country for this championship run has truly been unprecedented. Five buses of fans, students, athletes, the cheer squad and pep band made the trip to McKinney. I read that we sold nearly 1,000 tickets for this game, and Saturday there were watch parties here, throughout Michigan and across the country. A continuation of this support was the crowd that welcomed our team back to Big Rapids yesterday. Thank you for supporting our team in this extraordinary way.
Congratulations to head coach Tony Annese, his coaching staff and student athletes on the most memorable football season in Ferris State University history. We are so very proud of our team, athletes and coaches. Our football team has had an extraordinary season in which they captured the conference championship, were undefeated in the regular season, and won four post-season games in the NCAA tournament, where every team has great talent and is playing at its best. We are all Bulldog Proud. Thank you for a great season.
Saturday’s two commencement ceremonies filled Wink Arena to near capacity. At commencement there are so many examples of the difference a Ferris education makes for our students, and in the pride our graduates and their families have in this achievement. I very much enjoy watching the faces of our graduates as they walk across the stage. They represent so many emotions, and it is an honor to be a part of this memorable day in their lives.
At each ceremony I shared the stories of graduates who have overcome obstacles and persevered despite the challenges before them. Their stories are wonderful examples of how you change lives through the work you do every day at Ferris. Saturday’s stories are posted on our website At commencement it is easy to feel the strength and power of the college experience for our students. Each person at Ferris contributes to our student’s educational journey and to commencement which signifies this success. Thank you for making this difference in their lives.
Please have a wonderful holiday break and safe travels as you visit family and friends. I am hopeful this period also includes some time for fellowship, rest and relaxation. Thank you for all of your hard work this year and for all you do for our students. I look forward to working with you in 2019.
David L. Eisler, president