WAXAHACHIE

The NAIA preseason coaches poll was released Monday, and the Lions of Southwestern Assemblies of God University checked in at No. 22 in a tie with Arizona Christian University.

This marks the first year for the program to ever be ranked in the preseason poll. SAGU and Arizona Christian were two of three Sooner Athletic Conference teams ranked in the top 25, the other being Langston.

SAGU senior quarterback CJ Collins was also picked as the SAC preseason Offensive Player of the Year. He returns to once again lead a record-breaking offense which features multiple returners at the skill positions. The Bosqueville native was the Central States Football League Offensive Player of the Year following his 2017 campaign.

SAGU finished the 2017 campaign ranked No. 19 in the final NAIA coaches poll, after what was considered one of the most successful on-field seasons in the history of the program. The Lions climb as high as No. 17, which is where they sat after the final regular season ranking.

The Lions open their 2018 season under new head coach Ryan Smith at 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 23 at Evangel University. The game is the first of the NAIA season.