A players meeting Wednesday afternoon marked the start of preseason camp for the Lamar University football team as approximately 90 players reported to the Dauphin Athletics Complex. The start of the 2016 campaign marks the seventh season since the sport’s return, all seven under the guidance of head coach Ray Woodard.

The players broke into position meetings following the team assembly with the first official workout slated for Thursday evening. Thursday’s practice will be the first of 15 practice dates before the players begin fall classes. Preseason camp will consist of two scrimmages – Saturday, Aug. 13 (7 p.m.) and Sunday, Aug. 21 (7 p.m.). All practices will begin at 7 p.m. and will be open to the public until the start of official game week preparation.

“It’s always exciting to be back on campus and getting ready for football,” said senior tight end DeAndre Jennings. “There is nothing quite like this atmosphere. The coaches are ready to get going, and the players are ready to put pads on and hit someone. The offseason has been really good for everyone and now that camp is here we’re getting more dialed in.”

High expectations have been placed on the Cardinals for the upcoming season. LU was picked to finish fourth in a recent poll of the Southland Conference head coaches and media relations directors. The fourth-place prediction is the highest for the Cardinals since the program’s return and if history repeats itself that is good news for the LU faithful. The Cardinals have finished better than their preseason prediction very season since football was brought back for the start of the 2010 season.

A key reason for the respect the Cardinals have received in the preseason polls is based in large part to the number of returning letterwinners to go along a highly touted signing class. Big Red returns 42 letterwinners, and 14 starters from last season. In addition to the returning players, the LU coaching staff signed the Southland’s top recruiting class – a class which ranked fourth nationally at the FCS level. The Cards 2016 signing class consisted of two three-star athletes to go along with numerous two-star prospects.

The Cardinals enter the upcoming season with four players named to the preseason All-Southland squad, including three first-team selections. The first-teamers include running back Kade Harrington, offensive linemen Bret Treadway and return specialist Rodney Randle. Senior defensive back Brendan Langley was named to the conference preseason second team.

Along with the preseason all-conference teams voted on by the league head coaches, CollegeSportsMadness.com selected six Cardinals to its preseason squad. Harrington is expected to repeat as player of the year, and is joined on the first team by Treadway and Randle. Langley was named to the second-team defense while Jennings garnered a second-team offensive nod at tight end. Junior kicker Alex Ball received second-team recognition at kicker. Senior safety Xavier Bethany was the team’s lone third-team representative.

Big Red opens 2016 at home against one of the strongest teams in the country from the previous season. Coastal Carolina makes its first trip to Beaumont coming off a 2015 season that saw them advance to the FCS playoffs and climb as high as No. 2 in the national polls. The game against the Chanticleers will kick off at 7 p.m. from Provost Umphrey Stadium. Tickets can be purchased by going to www.LamarCardinals.com or by dialing(409) 880-1715.