South Carolina State head football coach Buddy Pough couldn't help but smile at the end of Wednesday's workout in Orangeburg.

With the first preseason practice on the shelf, the Coach reflected on another opening day of fall camp.

"The best of the whole deal is you actually recruit these guys and you can see them run around and see if they're any good or not," he said.

"So, that was a treat. I think it's just too early to tell anything but... I'm excited about what I saw."

In the MEAC preseason poll, the Bulldogs were picked to finish third. Pough says he was hoping his team would be picked lower, but third will suffice.

"I actually picked us fourth, trying to find some motivation for getting this team to really get out there and figure out how to improve and be better. Perceptually, it's obvious our guys are not as highly thought of as they once were. We didn't have as many all-conference guys. We have all kind of little chips on our shoulders.

"Hopefully, we'll get out there and do something better than third."

The Bulldogs are coming off a rare losing season. S.C. State was 5-6, but 5-3 in the MEAC. Reigning MEAC Defensive Player of the Year and Preseason Defensive Player of the Year Darius Leonard is in his final season and he is determined to not have another losing season.

"5-6 is a bust," Leonard said.

"You don't want to be walking around looking like a loser. So, yeah, we want to go out and win every game that we can. We're very hungry. That's our motto - Championship Lifestyle."

Pough noted that the one previous time the Bulldogs were 5-6 under his leadership, they went to the playoffs the following year in 2013.

"We'd like to think that would be kind of the pattern that we try to pattern ourselves after this year," Pough said.