Franklinton graduate wins major award

Published 10:36 am Friday, November 26, 2021

P.J. Burkhalter’s college career came to a close on Nov. 18 with his Nicholls State Colonels defeating Southeastern Louisiana University, 45-42, and his offseason is off to a great start.

For the third-consecutive year, Burkhalter, who is a left guard, is the Southland Conference Offensive Lineman of the Year.

“It feels good to win it three years in a row, but I just want to thank my teammates, my offensive line coach (Lee Roussel) for helping in my time at Nicholls developing me,” Burkhalter said. “He never took it easy on me. He always coached me like I was a freshman and I appreciate that. I appreciate my teammates for pushing me and holding me to a high standard that we built in the offensive line room.”

Burkhalter, who is a 2015 Franklinton High School graduate, is also a first-team all-Southland Conference Player.

Prior to Burkhalter’s freshman year at Nicholls State, he was told he would never be able to play again because of Hydronephrosis, which is low function in the kidney.

Burkhalter worked his way back, and the doctor who told him he couldn’t play again, was the owner of a crossfit gym and was in the same crossfit class as

Burkhalter. The doctor saw his improvement and got him in for an appointment. Everything checked out and he cleared Burkhalter to play.

“I just think everything happened for a reason. I feel like the years I didn’t play, I matured as a man and I got to see what to do and what not to do. The time on the sidelines helped me mature as a man and as a person. When I stepped on that field, I knew how to act as a student athlete. I knew what it took. I understood the grind. I never took being on the field for granted because I knew it could be taken away from me. I took every practice, every offensive meeting, every walk through and every game seriously because I didn’t know when it would be taken away from me again.”

Burkhalter was part of an offensive line that blocked for the conference’s leading rushing team with 2,714 yards in their 11 games for 246.7 yards rushing per game. Nicholls State was also tops in yards per carry at 5.93

The 25 touchdowns on the ground was second most in the conference behind Southeastern Louisiana University, which had 30.

Nicholls State went 6-5 overall and 5-3 in conference play.

Burkhalter graduated with a degree in Human Health Performance. He is currently working on his second degree in Safety Petroleum Technology, which he should have wrapped up in December.