Lions open 2021 Season at North Alabama

Published 3:44 pm Friday, September 3, 2021

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The No. 15/17 Southeastern Louisiana University football team will open up its 2021 campaign at North Alabama in the season opener for both teams Saturday at 6 p.m. at Braly Stadium.

The game was originally scheduled to be held in Hammond, but the impacts of Hurricane Ida forced the move to Florence. The Lions of the Big South Conference are providing generous hosts to SLU, as a portion of the proceeds will benefit Southeastern.

Admission for the contest will be $10. The game will be televised on ESPN3 and can be heard on Kajun 107.1 FM, Tangi 96.5 FM and WFPR 1400 AM in the Hammond area. Fans can also listen online at or

Southeastern is coming off a spring 2021 season in which it finished 4-3 overall and 4-2 in Southland Conference play. The Lions were one of the last four teams out of the FCS playoff field and finished the spring ranked in both the Stats Perform (No. 20) and AFCA Coaches (No. 21) polls.

The Lions are picked to win the Southland Confernce for the first time since the 2014 season and are currently ranked No. 15 and 17, respectively in the Stats Perform and AFCA Coaches polls heading into the 2021 campaign.

Quarterback Cole Kelley, the reigning Walter Payton Award winner, is the leader of a high-powered offense. The entire starting offensive line – including the All-Southland quartet of Jalen Bell, Drew Jones, Rendon-Miles Character and Ethan McMullan – returns for the Lions.

Kelley’s top targets are CJ Turner and Austin Mitchell, while Tim Wilson Jr., Brennon Dingle, Nick Kovacs and Nolan Givan, among others, are expected to give Southeastern plenty of options in the passing game. Taron Jones is the top performer on the ground for SLU.

Buck Buchanan Award candidate Ferlando Jordan, one of 12 two-time All-Americans in school history, is the leader of the Southeastern defense. Jordan is part of a Lion secondary that returns All-Southland performers Donniel Ward-Magee and Jack Henderson.

All-Southland linebackers Alexis Ramos – the conference’s leading tackler this spring – and Herman Christophe are back for SLU, while Southeastern’s defensive line will be fortified by returns/additions of Nelson Jenkins III, Sci Martin, Cherif Seye and John Graves III.

On special teams, All-Southland punter Austin Dunlap is back after posting the eighth-highest punting average (43.7) in FCS this spring. Mateo Rengifo will once again handle the kicking duties, after connecting on 9-of-10 field goals in his debut season.


UNA returns 50 lettermen, including 21 starters from last fall when the Lions went 0-4 against a schedule that included FBS opponents Liberty, Southern Mississippi and BYU. BYU finished the season ranked 11th nationally and Liberty was 17th.

The Lions are in the midst of a transition from Division II and will be competing in the Big South Conference this season. North Alabama features six preseason All-Big South selections in punter Joe Gurley, wide receiver Dexter Boykin, wide receiver Cortez Hall, defensive end Wallace Cowins, linebacker Will Evans and defensive back K.J. Smith.


Saturday will be the 13th all-time meeting between SLU and North Alabama. Southeastern leads the all-time series, 9-1-2. UNA and SLU were former league rivals in the Gulf South Conference from 1973-78.

Southeastern will play its first three games away from home. Next Saturday, SLU travels to Louisiana Tech for a 6 p.m. game in Ruston. The game will be televised on ESPN3.

For ticket information, contact the Southeastern Athletics Ticket Office at (985) 549-5466 or visit Southeastern will continue offering mobile ticketing as the primary source for securing tickets for the 2021-22 season. All tickets will be available via e-mail or text message in a PDF format for fans to download on their phone or print at home. Tickets can also be downloaded to Apple Wallet.

For more information on Southeastern Football, follow @LionUpFootball and @Coach_Scelfo on Twitter, like /SLUathletics on Facebook and subscribe to the SLUathletics YouTube channel.


Fans interested in becoming active supporters of the football program are encouraged to join the Touchdown Club. Lion football alums are encouraged to join the exclusive S Club, which is restricted to Southeastern athletic letter winners.

All membership fees and donations to both the Touchdown Club and S Club (football) are available for the exclusive use of the Southeastern football program. Membership information is available by contacting the Lion Athletics Association at or (985) 549-5091 or visiting


Southeastern Athletics instituted a clear bag policy for all ticketed events, effective with the start of the 2018 football season. For more information on the clear bag policy, visit