Colorado Springs, Colo. - The Northeast Mississippi Community College football program finds itself in unchartered territory with the start of the 2017 campaign just over two weeks away.
The Tigers are located at No. 9 in the National Junior College Athletic Association's (NJCAA) preseason rankings, which were officially released on Monday, August 14.
"Every team in the country has aspirations of being in the top 10 so we're incredibly humbled and encouraged," said Northeast head coach Greg Davis. "We're extremely excited about where our program is going. Hopefully we can live up to these expectations."
This is the highest preseason rating on record for the Tigers in school history. It is also Northeast's first ranking prior to the kickoff of a new year in just over a decade.
The Tigers checked in at No. 17 in the 2006 preseason poll after a stellar 2005 campaign that included a Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) North Division championship and a berth to the Pilgrim's Pride Bowl Classic in Mt. Pleasant, Texas.
Northeast has also received a No. 18 rating by the College Football America Yearbook in its junior college preseason top 30 poll, which did include members of the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA).
The Tigers have gained this prestigious recognition following a dynamic 2016 season that ended with a 6-3 overall record and featured 20 players that advanced their careers to four-year institutions.
Northeast won six of its initial seven contests. That included a season-best four-game winning streak in the middle of the campaign that allowed the Tigers to soar up the NJCAA's rankings.
A 30-12 home victory over rival Itawamba Community College sent Northeast into the top 10 of the national poll for the first time since 2005. The Tigers eventually peaked at No. 7 following a road triumph over Mississippi Delta Community College.
Northeast wrapped up the year by landing at No. 10 in the final NJCAA poll. It was the first instance in program history that the Tigers finished a season inside the top 10 countrywide.
Week two of practices are underway as Northeast makes preparations for the upcoming campaign. The Tigers feature a large, talented freshman class that will mix with an experienced core group of sophomores that contributed greatly one year ago.
Northeast has appeared in nine consecutive NJCAA polls dating back to October 3, 2016. The Tigers entered the rankings at No. 18 that week after defeating Coahoma Community College in their homecoming matchup.
The Tigers christen the new campaign on Thursday, August 31 with their longest road trip of the entire year to Pearl River Community College. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Dobie Holden Stadium.
Northeast then makes its debut in Booneville one week later on Thursday, September 7 versus East Central Community College to begin a season-long three-game home stand.