BROOKINGS, S.D. (KELO) – With the calendar recently turning to August, the South Dakota State Jackrabbit football team took to the field early Friday afternoon for their first official practice of the 2022 season.

The Jacks are coming off the program’s 3rd trip to the FCS Semifinals, though they couldn’t get back to Frisco for a second straight season as they fell to Montana State in their semifinal matchup last fall.

SDSU enters 2022 as one of the conference favorites again as they were picked to finish 2nd in the Missouri Valley Football Conference Preseason Poll, just behind defending National Champion North Dakota State.

They’ll have holes to replace on both sides of the ball, but despite losing Pierre Strong Junior in the backfield, and Chris Oladokun under center, the Jackrabbit offense should be the early strength for this year’s team.

That’s because they have loads of talent at wide out, a potential NFL Draft pick at tight end in Tucker Kraft, Isaiah Davis back and fully healthy in the backfield, and Mark Gronowski, the freshman and conference player of the year back in the spring of 2021 returns, after missing all of last season with an injury.

“We’ve been with Mark for awhile, it’s just like calming, it’s Mark. He’s been around, he knows what he’s doing. There’s no high and lows and so it’s just been awesome,” SDSU senior guard Mason McCormick said.

“I think it was one of the best summers we’ve ever had as far as numbers wise, people being here, people showing up every day to work. Kind of those early July weeks can get a little mundane but everybody came in every morning, bright and early at 6AM ready to go. So, the attitude was really good and that was really cool to see,” SDSU senior offensive tackle Garret Greenfield said.