Former Franklinton player all-conference honorable mention for Nicholls State
Published 1:27 pm Friday, December 7, 2018
Three years ago, Nicholls State University offensive lineman P.J. Burkhalter was told he would never play football again because of low function in his kidney.
In an article published in the Daily News last December, Burkhalter said that the day before fall camp of 2015, the team doctor told him the news.
“He was worried about me dehydrating and draining it more. Basically, he didn’t want me to be on dialysis at 21 years old and not be able to live a normal life,” Burkhalter said, last year.
He said in that article that he took the bad news as everything happens for a reason and he working and working out.
Burkhalter focused on nutrition and training to lose weight and lost about 60 pounds, allowing his kidney to not have to work as hard. He began doing CrossFit the summer of 2016.
“The doctor who didn’t clear me was the same doctor I went to CrossFit with and he saw me progressing and losing weight,” Burkhalter said. “He told me to come see him last spring (2017) and he cleared me to go.”
Burkhalter said the doctor put him on a hydration plan, took his blood pressure everyday and he got blood work once a week for the entire season just to make sure everything was good and it was.
Fast-forward to this season, and Burkhalter, who is a redshirt sophomore, is an all-Southland Conference Honorable Mention player.
“I feel lucky,” the 2015 Franklinton High School graduate said. “Not many people can come back from being out of football for two years and start every game. I’m just lucky to have this opportunity to keep playing football.”
Burkhalter credited his coaches and teammates on being named all-conference honorable mention.
“It’s good to get recognized by the Southland Conference, but I couldn’t do it without my coaches and my teammates,” Burkhalter said.
Burkhalter has started every game over the last two seasons.
This year, the Colonels led the Southland Conference in rushing yards (3,208), average per carry (5.3), touchdowns (32) and yards per game (246.8).
Nicholls State had eight individual 100-yard rushing games this season and they entered last Saturday’s playoff game having allowed 23 sacks, which is third in the league. They finished having allowed 25 sacks this season.
Burkhalter said he feels like he improved a lot from last year.
The game slowed down a whole lot from last year,” Burkhalter said. “I can’t wait to get back on the field next year because I think the game will be even slower.”
This season was a memorable one for Nicholls State.
The Colonels are the 2018 Southland Conference Champion, after posting a 7-2 record in league play.
Nicholls State reached the FCS playoffs. They won their opener, 49-30. Nicholls State lost last week, 42-21 to Eastern Washington after having a rough second half. The Colonels led 14-10 at halftime, but were outscored 32-7 in the second half.
Nicholls State was 9-4 overall this season.
“It was good,” Burkhalter said. “We made a lot of history, so it was good to give the community something to look forward to for next year. It was a good year overall.
“We were happy to win conference and a playoff game. Coach always talks to us about just playing the next game. The next game is the biggest because it’s the next one. We try to take that mentality into every week.”