Bearkats heavy favorites for Southland repeat

After winning the Southland Conference in 2016, the Sam Houston State Bearkats are favored to win it yet again.  The No. 1 ranked Bearkats received 20 first-place votes in the 2017 Southland football preseason poll released July 20. The 2016 conference runners-up University of Central Arkansas followed with two first place votes.

SHSU tabbed 11 players on the preseason all-SLC team, while also returning 13 starters: eight on offense and five on defense. One of those returning players is All-Conference senior quarterback Jeremiah Briscoe. The 2016 Walter Payton Award recipient is coming off a record setting season after tossing an FCS single-season record of 57 touchdown passes.

“He’s more physically fit and able to move around in the pocket,” said head coach K.C. Keeler about Briscoe.  “The biggest thing for him was changing his diet. It’s been a really important offseason for him.”

Keeler and Briscoe both have high expectations heading into this season.

“We have the best two players in the country: one on offense and one on defense,” said Keeler, taking about Briscoe and All-Conference senior defensive end P.J. Hall. “The expectations should be high.”

The Bearkats open up the 2017 season at home on national television Aug. 27 vs. the Richmond Spiders. The early test will show the Kats if they have what it takes to make another deep run for a National Championship.

“I would be perfectly fine if I didn’t throw one touchdown pass the whole season and win the national championship,” said Briscoe.  “The championship ring… That is all I want.”

Kickoff at Bowers Stadium is set for 6 p.m. and will be broadcasted on ESPNU.

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