Nicholls State picked to win the Southland Conference

Published 1:35 pm Friday, January 29, 2021

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Nicholls State University is projected to win the Southland Conference.

The picks for the seven teams are based on a preseason vote by each head coach and the football sports information directors. Coaches and SIDs cannot vote for their own team and the projections are based on points.

Nicholls State had 67 points with Sam Houston State University just two points behind for second.

First-place votes get six points, while second is five and so on. Sixth place is worth one point.

Colonels redshirt senior offensive lineman P.J. Burkhalter has won numerous awards over the last three years.

In the preseason, Burkhalter, who graduated from Franklinton in 2015, has made the Athlon Sports Football Championship Subdivision Preseason All-America Team, College Football America Yearbook FCS Preseason Starting Lineup and preseason first team for HERO Sports, Stats Perform, Phil Steele and All-Southland.

Three more locals play in the Southland Conference.

Fullback Damien Dawson and defensive lineman Brendon Kelley play for Southeastern Louisiana University and wide receiver Markel Cotton is at McNeese State University.

SLU and McNeese are picked third and fourth respectively with 48 and 45 points.

Dawson, a redshirt senior and a 2016 Franklinton graduate, made the 2018 Southland Conference Commissioner’s Fall Academic Honor Roll. For his career, Dawson had made six catches for 22 yards and a touchdown. Dawson has played 32 games.

Kelley, a redshirt sophomore and a 2018 Pine graduate, made the 2019 Southland Conference Commissioner’s Fall Academic Honor Roll. Kelley played in three games last year.

Cotton, who is a redshirt freshman and a 2019 Pine graduate, is a wide receiver.

As of right now, Nicholls State’s opener is Feb. 27, but it might be Feb. 19.

McNeese State will begin the season on Feb. 13 with a road game against Tarleton State University.

Southeastern Louisiana University will kick off the year on Feb. 27 on the road against Sam Houston State University.