Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Mich., has been playing football for nearly 120 years. In April, the program had its first player selected in the NFL draft when the Ravens took Zach Sieler in the seventh round.
The 6-foot-6, 290-pound defensive tackle is proud to represent the Bulldogs at the professional level.
“It’s exciting,” he said after Monday’s practice. “It’s pretty meaningful to me. That makes more of a drive for me to succeed.”
Sieler accumulated 33 sacks and 178 tackles in his career at Division II Ferris State, including seven sacks, 79 tackles, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries as a fifth-year junior before declaring for the draft. But Sieler understands he will be judged differently against NFL-level competition.
“Just want to show what they saw on film and show that it wasn’t just with the D-II guys,” he said. “I have to show that I can use my talents here.”
As if representing the Bulldogs wasn’t enough, Sieler also was Ozzie Newsome’s final pick of his career as the Ravens general manager. Sieler told Newsome he would make him proud.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a burden,” he said of being Newsome’s last choice. “I’m glad that everything happened. I’m blessed. I feel so thankful for everything, and it’s kind of an extra motivator to go from there.”
Sieler is ranked third on the depth chart behind starter Brandon Williams and backup Willie Henry, but could see plenty of playing time in the Ravens’ preseason opener against the Chicago Bears on Thursday in Canton, Ohio. Sieler realizes the games are prime opportunities for newcomers like himself to provide the coaching staff with plenty of film — and reasons to not cut them.
“You’ve got to put yourself out there and play your hardest on every snap,” he said. “It’s an amazing experience, and you have a chance to go out there and prove what you can do.”