Southeast players reported to preseason camp Wednesday. They had their annual conditioning/fitness test Thursday, followed by today's first of 14 scheduled practice days before the start of classes Aug. 20. All practices are open to the public.
"We're looking forward to it. We're ready to start," Southeast coach Tony Samuel said. "We've got a lot of work to do."
The Redhawks are coming off a season that saw them go 3-8 overall and 2-6 in the nine-team Ohio Valley Conference to tie for seventh.
This year's squad is much more experienced than the 2011 unit, and Samuel believes that will play a major factor in what he hopes is a push back toward the top of the OVC.
Southeast welcomes back nine offensive starters, seven defensive starters and both specialists among its 46 returning lettermen. Several other players have started a handful of games.
The Redhawks enter the preseason with 102 players on their roster.
"We've got a lot more experience than we had last year, and that should help us," said Samuel, who led the 2010 Redhawks to the program's first OVC championship and playoff berth on any level. "Experience is always important."
Samuel said he also has a good feeling about this season because a large group of players remained in Cape Girardeau over the summer for voluntary workouts. Only the strength coaching staff were allowed to work with the players.
"We've had a real good group stick around, like two years ago and more than last year," Samuel said. "That's always very important. I like this bunch. Any time they put in the extra work in the summer, when the coaches aren't around, that's a positive."
Southeast's first practice in full pads will be Tuesday, which also marks the first of four two-a-day sessions. There will be two scrimmages, Aug. 11 and Aug. 18.
The Redhawks open the season Aug. 30 at Football Bowl Subdivision member Central Michigan.
Southeast's first home game is Sept. 8 against Mars Hill College, a Division II program from North Carolina that earned a playoff berth last year.