Kelley, Larvadain earn top honors; 18 Lions claim All-Southland notice

Published 12:16 pm Tuesday, November 23, 2021

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After helping No. 17 Southeastern Louisiana University to its fourth postseason appearance in school history, 18 SLU student-athletes were named to the 2021 All-Southland Conference Football Teams released by the league office on Tuesday.

Two Lions earned top individual awards. Senior quarterback Cole Kelley was named the Southland Conference Player of the Year. The Lafayette, Louisiana native is the second Lion to earn that honor, joining Southeastern Athletics Hall of Famer Bryan Bennett, who won the honor in 2013.

SLU’s Gage Larvadain, a first team All-Southland selection at kick returner and second team all-league choice at wide receiver, was named the Southland Freshman of the Year. The New Orleans native joins Southeastern Athletics Hall of Famer Simmie Yarborough (2008) and Jordan Wells (2011) on the list of Southeastern’s Southland Freshmen of the Year.

Kelley and Larvadain were joined on the first team by senior tight end Nolan Givan, senior wide receiver Austin Mitchell, senior offensive lineman Rendon Miles-Character, senior linebacker Alexis Ramos and freshman defensive back Zy Alexander.

Second team offensive players for the Lions included Larvadain, junior running back Taron Jones, sophomore offensive lineman John Allen, junior offensive lineman Jalen Bell and senior offensive lineman Drew Jones. Sophomore defensive lineman Garrett Crawford and junior defensive back Donniel Ward-Magee were also second team choices.

Representing the Lions as a honorable mention choices were senior offensive lineman Ethan McMullan, sophomore kicker Mateo Rengifo, junior punter Austin Dunlap, sophomore defensive lineman John Graves III and sophomore defensive back Jack Henderson.

Other top individual award winners were UIW quarterback Cameron Ward (Offensive Player of the Year), McNeese defensive end Isaiah Chambers (Defensive Player of the Year), UIW wide receiver Taylor Grimes (Newcomer of the Year), Nicholls offensive lineman PJ Burkhalter (Offensive Lineman of the Year) and UIW head coach Eric Morris (Coach of the Year).

Southeastern will host No. 22 Florida A&M in the first round of the NCAA FCS Playoffs on Saturday at 6 p.m. in Strawberry Stadium. The Lions-Rattlers game will be televised on ESPN+. The game can also be heard in the Hammond area on Kajun 107.1 FM, The Highway 104.7 FM and The Boss 103.7 FM/1400 AM, as well as online at

Season ticket holders, as well as faculty and staff will have until Tuesday at 4 p.m. to purchase their tickets through the Southeastern Athletics Ticket Office. Starting Wednesday at 9 a.m., the remaining allotment will be made available to the public.

Ticket office hours this week will be Monday through Wednesday from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Friday from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. The Southeastern Athletics Ticket Office number is (985) 549-5466 and the office is located on the first floor of West Stadium.

Prices for Saturday’s contest are as follows:
– Chairbacks: $40
– Reserved bench: $26
– Student tickets (ID required): $8 *restricted section

– Student companion: $13

2021 Southland Conference Football Individual Superlative Winners

Player of the Year: Cole Kelley, Southeastern

Offensive Player of the Year: Cameron Ward, UIW

Defensive Player of the Year: Isaiah Chambers, McNeese

Newcomer of the Year: Taylor Grimes, UIW

Freshman of the Year: Gage Larvadain, Southeastern

Offensive Lineman of the Year: PJ Burkhalter, Nicholls

Coach of the Year: Eric Morris, UIW

2021 All-Southland Conference Teams

First Team Offense

Pos. | Name | School | Class | Hometown

QB | Cole Kelley | Southeastern | Sr. | Lafayette, La.

RB | Kevin Brown | UIW | Gr. | Mount Pleasant, S.C.

RB | Collin Guggenheim | Nicholls | Fr. | Kenner, La.

TE/HB | Nolan Givan | Southeastern | Sr. | Berkley, Mich.

WR | Austin Mitchell | Southeastern | Sr. | Plaquemine, La.

WR | Dai’Jean Dixon | Nicholls | Sr. | New Orleans, La.

WR | Taylor Grimes | UIW | Jr. | Godly, Texas

OL | Rendon Miles-Character | Southeastern | Sr. | New Orleans, La.

OL | PJ Burkhalter | Nicholls | Sr. | Franklinton, La.

OL | Caron Coleman | McNeese | Jr. | St. Louis, Mo.

OL | Nash Jones | UIW | So. | Nacogdoches, Texas

OL | Jair Joseph | Nicholls | Sr. | Belle Rose, La.

PK | Gino Garcia | HBU | Jr. | Richardson, Texas

P | Brady Buell | HBU | Jr. | Traverse City, Mich.

First Team Defense

Pos. | Name | School | Class | Hometown

DL | Isaiah Chambers | McNeese | Gr. | Houston, Texas

DL | Perry Ganci | Nicholls | So. | New Orleans, La.

DL | Mason Kinsey | McNeese | Jr. | Mansfield, Texas

DL | Cameron Preston | UIW | Sr. | Crowley, Texas

LB | Alexis Ramos | Southeastern | Sr. | Salinas, Calif.

LB | Kelechi Anyalebechi | UIW | Sr. | Pearland, Texas

LB | Kordell Williams | McNeese | Jr. | Carencro, La.

DB | Zy Alexander | Southeastern | Fr. | Loreauville, La.

DB | Kaleb Culp | UIW | So. | Dallas, Texas

DB | Kevin Johnson | Nicholls | Sr. | New Orleans, La.

DB | Jarius Monroe | Nicholls | So. | LaPlace, La.

DB | Andre Sam | McNeese | Jr. | Iowa, La.

KR | Gage Larvadain | Southeastern | Fr. | New Orleans, La.

PR | Robert Ferrel | UIW | Sr. | Sparks, Nev.

Second Team Offense

Pos. | Name | School | Class | Hometown

QB | Cameron Ward | UIW | So. | West Columbia, Texas

RB | Taron Jones | Southeastern | Jr. | Mandeville, La.

RB | Deonta McMahon | McNeese | Jr. | Frostploof, Fla.

TE/HB | Lee Negrotto | Nicholls | Fr. | Pass Christian, Miss.

WR | Gage Larvadain | Southeastern | Fr. | New Orleans, La.

WR | Robert Ferrel | UIW | Sr. | Sparks, Nev.

WR | KJ Franklin | Nicholls | So. | Prairieville, La.

OL | John Allen | Southeastern | So. | Jackson, Miss.

OL | Jalen Bell | Southeastern | Jr. | Amory, Miss.

OL | Drew Jones | Southeastern | Sr. | Des Allemands, La.

OL | Evan Roussel | Nicholls | Fr. | Lutcher, La.

OL | Jakob Sell | Northwestern State | Jr. | Dallas, Texas

PK | Gavin Lasseigne | Nicholls | So. | Raceland, La.

P | Kevin Nguyen | UIW | Sr. | Rohnert Park, Calif.

Second Team Defense

Pos. | Name | School | Class | Hometown

DL | Garrett Crawford | Southeastern | So. | Slidell, La.

DL | Brandon Bowen | UIW | Gr. | Trophy Club, Texas

DL | Accord Green | McNeese | Jr. | New Orleans, La.

DL | Jequaries Martin | Nicholls | Sr. | Chilton, Ala.

LB | Rodney Dansby | HBU | Fr. | Houston, Texas

LB | Isaiah Paul | UIW | So. | San Antonio, Texas

LB | Hayden Shaheen | Nicholls | Fr. | Baton Rouge, La.

DB | Donniel Ward-Magee | Southeastern | Jr. | New Orleans, La.

DB | Shemar Bartholomew | Northwestern State | Jr. | New Orleans, La.

DB | Rashon Davis | UIW | Gr. | St. Louis, Mo.

DB | Corione Harris | McNeese | Jr. | New Orleans, La.

DB | Jarrius Wallace | McNeese | Gr. | Villa, La.

KR | Tyson Thompson | HBU | Fr. | Spring, Texas

PR | Mason Pierce | McNeese | So. | Pearland, Texas

Honorable Mention: Ethan McMullan, OL, Southeastern; Mateo Rengifo, K, Southeastern; Austin Dunlap, P, Southeastern; John Graves III, DL, Southeastern; Jack Henderson, DB, Southeastern; Lindsey Scott Jr., QB, Nicholls; Marcus Cooper, RB, UIW; Stephon Huderson, RB, McNeese; Jamal Pettigrew, TE, McNeese; Darion Chafin, WR, UIW; Jay Griffin IV, WR, Northwestern State; Reid Francis, OL, UIW; Caleb Johnson, OL, UIW; Dawson Kier, OL, UIW; Scotty Roblow, P, Northwestern State; Blaine Hoover, DL, UIW; Isaiah Longino, DL, Northwestern State; Myles Vigne, DL, Nicholls; Jared Pedraza, Northwestern State, LB; Jomard Valsin Jr., LB, Northwestern State; Elliott Davison, DB, UIW; Moses Reynolds, DB, UIW; Brandon Richard, DB, UIW; Colby Richardson, McNeese, DB; Mason Pierce, KR, McNeese; Tyson Thompson, PR, HBU.

Southeastern Football All-Southland Conference Capsules

Cole Kelley, Player of the Year | First Team QB

The reigning Walter Payton Award winner has been even more productive in his final season in Hammond … Passed for 4,382 yards and 38 touchdowns on 339-for-457 passing … Rushed for 442 yards and 16 touchdowns … Leads nation in passing yards, total offense, points responsible for and completion percentage … Also ranks in the top five in FCS in passing touchdowns (3rd) and rushing touchdowns (3rd) … Only player in FCS to be ranked in the top 10 nationally in both passing and rushing touchdowns … Closed out the regular season as the program’s single-season and career record holder in rushing touchdowns (33 – career, 16 – season), total touchdowns scored (35/16), passing yards (7,860/4,382), passing touchdowns (66/38), touchdowns responsible for (101/54) and total offense (8,561/4,824) … Vying to be the third two-time Walter Payton Award winner in school history … Named All-Southland Conference for the second straight season … Was Southland Offensive Player of the Year in the spring.

Gage Larvadain, Freshman of the Year | First Team KR | Second Team WR
SLU’s first Southland Conference Freshman of the Year since 2011 … Sixth nationally with a 29.4 kickoff return average … Finished the regular season with 32 catches for 484 yards and five touchdowns … All but three of his catches came against Southland Conference competition.

Nolan Givan, First Team TE/HB

Immediate impact player in his debut season with the Lions … Second on the team with 46 catches for 454 yards and five touchdowns.

Austin Mitchell, First Team WR

Recorded 66 catches for 1,035 yards – the third 1,000-yard receiving season in school history – and nine touchdowns … Seventh in FCS in receiving yards … School’s career record holder with 3,000 receiving yards – fifth among active FCS players … Named All-Southland for the third straight season.

Rendon Miles-Character, First Team OL

Started all 11 games at right tackle for a Lion offense that leads the nation in total offense, scoring offense, completion percentage and first downs and has scored 50 or more points in an FCS-high six games … Named All-Southland Conference for the second straight year.

Alexis Ramos, First Team LB

Led Southeastern with 71 tackles during the regular season … Also had 6.5 tackles for loss and five pass breakups … Named All-Southland Conference in all three seasons of his Lion career.

Zy Alexander, First Team DB

Sixth nationally with six interceptions for a Lion defense that is sixth in FCS with 16 interceptions … Intercepted passes in four consecutive Southland games during one stretch … Broke up a team-high six passes and ranks second in the league in passes defended … Interception total is tied for the third-highest single-season in program history.

Taron Jones, Second Team RB

Second on the team with 297 rushing yards and six touchdowns on the ground … Tied for third on the team with 32 receptions.

John Allen, Second Team OL

Established himself as the starting left guard for the Lions in his second season in Hammond … Key contributor for a Lion offense that leads the nation in total offense, scoring offense, completion percentage and first downs and has scored 50 or more points in an FCS-high six games.

Jalen Bell, Second Team OL

Started 10 games at left tackle for a Lion offense that leads the nation in total offense, scoring offense, completion percentage and first downs and has scored 50 or more points in an FCS-high six games … Named to the all-conference team for the second straight season.

Drew Jones, Second Team OL
Leader of the SLU offensive line started all 11 games at center for a Lion offense that leads the nation in total offense, scoring offense, completion percentage and first downs and has scored 50 or more points in an FCS-high six games … Repeat All-Southland Conference selection.

Garrett Crawford, Second Team DL

Led Southeastern with seven tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks … Finished with 23 tackles (13 solo).

Donniel Ward-Magee, Second Team DB

Second on the team with 46 tackles (31 solo) from his free safety position … Broke up a pair of passes and forced a fumble … Named second team All-Southland for the second straight season.

Ethan McMullan, Honorable Mention OL

Started all 11 games at right guard for a Lion offense that leads the nation in total offense, scoring offense, completion percentage and first downs and has scored 50 or more points in an FCS-high six games … Named All-Southland Conference for the second straight season.

Austin Dunlap, Honorable Mention P

His 44.1 punting average was the highest in the Southland and would be 10th in FCS if the high-powered SLU offense allowed him to reach the minimum punts per game requirement to be listed in the national rankings … Averaged 44.9 yards per punt versus Southland Conference competition … Repeat All-Southland Conference selection.

Mateo Rengifo, Honorable Mention K

Connected on 7-of-10 field goals in his second season with the Lions and is the leading scorer in the Southland among kickers …  Also been very efficient on kickoffs, recording 43 touchbacks this fall … Named all-conference for second time in as many seasons.

John Graves III, Honorable Mention DL

Played in 10 games on the interior defensive line … Finished with 21 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and three sacks.

Jack Henderson, Honorable Mention DB

Fourth on the team with 43 tackles … Also has 2.5 tackles for loss and an interception to his credit … Named All-Southland for the second straight season.

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


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