The Missouri Southern football team will hold its first practice of fall camp this Friday at 6:30 p.m. inside Fred G. Hughes Stadium.

The first five practices — each starting at 6:30 unless weather dictates otherwise — will be open to the public through their entirety. The remainder of the camp through Week 1 of the season will be closed to the public as well as the media. After Week 1, MSSU practices will be open to the public for the first 15 minutes of each workout.

The Lions, entering their first season under head coach Jeff Sims, have been picked to finish 10th in the MIAA by the media and the conference’s coaches.

Southern finished 11th in the conference a season ago with a 1-10 record, defeating Northeastern State 24-19 in a Week 8 contest in Joplin to snap a 20-game losing streak. Southern finished the year ranked last in the MIAA in scoring offense (7.4 points per game) and second-to-last in scoring defense (46.4).

MSSU returns nine starters from last year’s team, including a pair of all-MIAA performers in defensive lineman Levi Marlay and punter Riley Hathorn. Overall the program is returning 26 of its 91 letter winners from 2018.

In early February, Southern announced a 64-player signing class for the 2019 season that included 45 signees from the high school ranks and 19 college transfers.

Among the 19 college transfers, nine come from Sims’ most recent coaching stop at Garden City Community College where he won an NJCAA Division I national title in 2016 and lost in the national championship game in 2018.

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