After finishing tied for sixth in the 2013 Great American Conference standings, the East Central University football team has been picked to finish fourth in the 2014 GAC Preseason Poll, as voted on by the league's head coaches.
The Tigers, who finished 5-5 overall and in the conference a year ago, claimed 63 points in the poll. 2013 top finisher Henderson State was named as the preseason favorite with 100 points and 10 first-place votes. Harding earned the other first-place vote and a total of 89 points. Ouachita Baptist was third with 84 points and Southern Arkansas was fifth, just three points behind ECU with 60 points.
Southwestern Oklahoma finished sixth (54 points), Arkansas Tech seventh (44 points), Southeastern Oklahoma eighth (41 points), Arkansas-Monticello ninth (37 points), Northwestern Oklahoma 10th (22 points) and Southern Nazarene 11th (11 points).
The Tigers return 51 letterman and six offensive and six defense starters from a season ago, but also lose a total of 35 letterman and five offensive and defensive starters. Senior Qumain Black and junior Spencer Bond are two of the key returning starters from a season ago.
Black earned All-GAC First Team honors as well as Don Hansen All-Super Region Three Third Team accolades after leading the defense with three interceptions and six pass breakups. Bond went 180-of-351 as the starting quarterback and tallied 2,811 yards and 28 TD's for the year.
ECU will start the 2014 season on the road in Monticello, Ark., Sept. 6 at 6 p.m. when they face Arkansas-Monticello. The first home game of the season is set for Sept. 13 at 6 p.m. vs. Southern Arkansas.