Northwest, which is ranked pre-season No. 14 in the country by the NJCAA, opens the 2005 campaign Thursday, Sept. 1 by facing East Central in Decatur.
"I am impressed with what I have seen from our skill athletes on both sides of the ball," said Pippin. "The offensive and defensive lines have both been impressive as well, but depth is a concern."
Coach Pippin and his staff have been busy evaluating talent. The Rangers return just 14 sophomores from last year's squad that finished with a record of 7-2.
There is no clear cut favorite to start at several positions, but Northwest coaches hope that will change over the next week or so.
Offensively, the Rangers return just one starter-- sophomore tailback Terrance Jackson of Senatobia.
Northwest must find replacements on the offensive line. All five Ranger linemen from last year signed with Division I schools.
A couple of Division I transfers could help soften the blow. Offensive guard Josh Winchell of Southaven, who redshirted last season at the University of South Carolina, has been solid so far. Lance Lee, who transferred to Northwest from Ole Miss, could have an impact as well.
One of the biggest question marks entering the 2005 season is the kicking game, but Pippin hopes that problem will be solved by freshman Billy Bishop of Raymond.
Photo: Northwest Mississippi Community College sophomore receiver Robert Moore of Charleston heads upfield after making a catch during the Rangers' first week of fall drills.