BALDWIN CITY, Kansas – After arguably one of the greatest seasons in its storied program, the Baker University football team will begin the 2017 campaign ranked No. 2 in the country, as the NAIA announced its 2017 NAIA Football Coaches' Top 25 Preseason poll on Monday.
The Wildcats are coming off of a season in which they posted a school-record mark of 14-1 and played in its first NAIA-FCS National Championship game since 1986.
Baker earned 351 points in this first poll, while No. 1 St. Francis (Ind.) had 366 points. The Cougars defeated Baker, 38-17, on December 17, 2016 in Daytona Beach, Florida in the NAIA National Championship game.
The Wildcats return the NAIA National Player of the Year in senior quarterback Logan Brettell, who led the NAIA in passing yards in 2016 with 5,073 and total yards with 5,371. He is Baker's all-time leader in total passing TD's with 64.
Brettell became the University's first-ever NAIA National Player of the Year and CoSIDA Academic All-American of the Year award winner.
2016 NAIA All-American running back Cornell Brown is also back for the 'Cats. The Baldwin City, Kansas product had a school record 31 touchdowns scored in 2016 and led the country in receptions with 95.
Baker's all-time leading receiver Clarence Clark is back for his senior season. The Phoenix, Arizona native leads Baker in total career receptions with 185 and career receiving yards with 3,045.
Josh Kock is back for his senior season. The senior defensive lineman was named the 2015 and 2016 Heart South Co-Defensive Player of the Year.
The Wildcats led the country in turnover margin in 2016 at +23 and return nine All-Conference award winners from a year ago.
2016 Heart Coach of the Year Mike Grossner is back for his 14th season at the helm of the program. Grossner is just two career wins from 100 at Baker, as his 98 wins are second-most in program history.
Baker will open up the 2017 season on Saturday, Aug. 26 at 1 p.m. inside historic Liston Stadium. Fans are asked to wear orange to the game as we "Orange Out" Liston. Fans can watch the game live, by clicking here.
Also ranked in the Top 25 from the Heart of America Athletic Conference includes, No. 9 Grand View, No. 12 Missouri Valley and No. 23 William Penn.
To view the entire Top 25 poll, please click here.