The Southeast Missouri State football team doesn't open the season for about another three months but it's never too early to start talking about the Redhawks and the Ohio Valley Conference.
National preseason publications are starting to come out, and at least one of them doesn't believe Southeast will take a major step back after last year's historic campaign.
Lindy's, a respected magazine, ranks the defending OVC champion Redhawks 16th nationally. Another organization, southernpigskin.com, has Southeast 19th.
Perennial power Jacksonville State, which joined Southeast in the FCS playoffs last year, is the only other OVC squad in those two polls. The Gamecocks are No. 11 according to Lindy's and No. 9 according to southernpigskin.com.
The Gamecocks recently added two Southeastern Conference transfers. JSU announced last week that former Georgia running back Washaun Ealey and former Mississippi linebacker Clarence Jackson already have enrolled in classes at JSU.
Both players were dismissed from their previous programs, according to the Sports Network, and will be eligible to play for the Gamecocks this season. Ealey has two years of eligibility remaining and Jackson has three years.
Ealey looks like an especially big catch for JSU after leading Georgia in rushing each of the past two seasons. He rushed for 1,528 yards and 14 touchdowns in his two years with the Bulldogs, including 811 yards and 11 touchdowns in 12 games as a sophomore last season.
Ealey rushed for 157 yards and a school-record five touchdowns in the Bulldogs' win over Kentucky.
Jackson played in four games as a sophomore last season.
I really thought this would be the year for the Oran baseball team to finally break through and win a state title during its 10th final four appearance.
The Eagles have lost some excruciating games at the state tournament and last week proved no different as they fell to Liberal 6-5 in the Class 1 semifinals.
The Eagles bounced back to finish third.
Not too shabby, and 10 final fours is something to be extremely proud about for coach Mitch Wood and his fine program.
Another area high school program with plenty to be proud about is St. Vincent girls soccer, which capped a sensational three-year run Saturday by narrowly missing out on a second Class 1 state championship.
The Indians of coach Dusty Wengert fell to Springfield Catholic 3-2 in the title game. That marked their third straight final four berth, including capturing the crown in 2009 and finishing third last season.
Austin Peay, which won both the OVC regular-season and tournament titles, pulled off a major upset in the first round of the NCAA baseball tournament Friday.
The Governors stunned ninth-ranked Georgia Tech, the host and top seed of the Atlanta Regional, 2-1.
The Govs' couldn't follow up on the big win and were thrashed in their final two regional games, 8-3 by Mississippi State on Saturday and 12-2 by Georgia Tech on Sunday.
Baseball's annual amateur draft begins today with the first round and compensation rounds, followed by rounds two through 30 on Tuesday and rounds 31 through 50 on Wednesday.
I enjoy following the draft each year because I find it interesting to see where all the players come from.
If a player has talent, the scouts will find him no matter the size of the college, high school or hometown.
The popular Kelso Klassic fast-pitch softball tournament will have its 27th annual edition this week at Kelso City Park.
Action begins at 8 p.m. Friday, runs all day Saturday and concludes with Sunday's 3 p.m. championship.
Marty Mishow is a sports writer for the Southeast Missourian.