Spring football drills begin Wednesday at Elliott T. Bowers Stadium for the Sam Houston football team.

Head coach Wilie Fritz and his staff will welcome back 41 lettermen including 12 starters from last year's Bearkat football team that earned Sam Houston its second consecutive Southland Conference championship, NCAA Division I national finals appearance and a No. 2 national ranking.

The Bearkats will hold 14 practice sessions at Bowers Stadium during the next month. Spring ball will climax with the annual "Orange-White" game Thursday, April 18.

First and second team All-Southland performers include quarterback Brian Bell, running back Timothy Flanders, wide receiver/wildkat back Richard Sincere, defensive tackle Gary Lorance and cornerback Bookie Sneed.

Honorable mention All-Southland honorees returning include running back Keshawn Hill, defensive end Jarrett Brown and offensive guard Donald Jackson III

Sam Houston has been ranked among the FCS top 25 a total of 24 consecutive weeks since debuting in the national poll on Sept. 9, 2011. During an 11-0 regular season in 2011, the Kats rose all the way to No. 1. Sam Houston has been ranked among the FCS top 10 for 20 consecutive polls.

The 2013 Sam Houston spring training schedule is as follows:

March: 20 (Wed.), 22 (Fri.), 23 (Sat.), 25 (Mon.), 27 (Wed.), 29 (Fri.)
April: 1 (Mon.), 3 (Wed.), 5 (Fri.), 6 (Sat.), 8 (Mon.), 9 (Tue), 15 (Mon.), 17 (Wed)

Weekday practice sessions will begin at 3:30 p.m. Saturday practices will be held in the morning.

Special "visit days" for area high school coaches at Tuesday, March 26, and Tuesday, April 2.

Sam Houston State is one of only eight football programs to appear in consecutive NCAA Division I Football Championship Games.

The Bearkats' 14-1 season in 2011 and 11-4 record last year represent the first time in Sam Houston's 97 years of football that the football team has produced double digit victories in consecutive seasons.

Both years, the Bearkats won the Southland Conference title then posted three consecutive playoff victories for back-to-back appearances in the NCAA Division I Football Championship game at FC Dallas Stadium in Frisco, Texas.