The Nicholls State University football team had 11 student-athletes named to the 2021 Preseason All-Southland Team. The league office announced its preseason honorees Thursday morning.
The Colonels placed six on the first team, with five being offensive players. Offensive linemen P.J. Burkhalter, Jair Joseph and Evan Roussel, along with tight end David Mosley and wide receiver Dai’Jean Dixon, make up the first-team offense. Nicholls averaged a school record of 48.7 points and 521.6 yards of total offense in the spring season. Safety Kevin Moore III represents the defense for the first-team honors.
Second-team members include running back Julien Gums, receiver K.J. Franklin, receiver/kick returner Dontaze Costly, who each was named all-conference this spring. Newcomers to the all-league teams are defensive lineman Perry Ganci and linebacker Hayden Shaheen.
Burkhalter, who was named Southland Offensive Lineman of the Year the last two seasons, returns for an extra campaign. The guard has been named to nearly every all-American team since 2019.
The offensive line led the team to a No. 3-ranked rushing offense in the spring. Joseph started at right tackle, and Roussel handled the center duties as a true freshman. Mosley, a key blocker at tight end, hauled in three receptions for 22 yards.
Dixon finished the spring season with seven touchdown catches and 514 yards on 35 receptions, averaging 73.4 yards per game. He eclipsed 2,000 yards receiving for his career and is the program record holder for receptions, receiving yards and touchdown receptions.
Gums rushed for 467 yards and eight touchdowns on 91 carries last season. He rushed for over 100 yards twice, highlighted by a 156-yard outing in the win at Northwestern State. Gums put his name in the record book by tying the single-game school record with four rushing touchdowns in the finale against Southeastern.
Franklin totaled 303 yards receiving and two touchdowns on 23 receptions for his sophomore season. Costly returned a kick to the house.
For the defense, Moore is coming off his second All-Southland First Team season at safety. He led Nicholls with 48 tackles and had two forced fumbles and one sack.
Shaheen started at linebacker as a true freshman and was second on the team in tackles last season with 38, despite missing one game with an injury. He totaled 3.5 tackles for loss and had a forced fumble and fumble recovery.
Ganci started all seven games on the defensive line and racked up and 2.5 sacks.
Returning all-conference selections from the previous season are automatically named to the preseason all-conference teams and may advance to higher team slots if they are vacated by non-returning players. Open positions are nominated and voted upon by the league’s head coaches.
The preseason poll will be revealed next Thursday, July 22, to kick off the 2021 Southland Conference Football Media Day.
Feature photo by Jared Shanklin.