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2021 NFL Draft Prospect Senior Spotlight: P.J. Burkhalter, OL, Nicholls State University

PJ Burkhalter Nicholls State NFL Draft
Nicholls State offensive lineman PJ Burkhalter is one of the top offensive linemen in the 2021 NFL Draft. Check out this breakdown by Justin Kelm.

By Justin Kelm

An All-American in Thibodaux 

Nicholls State University is nestled in Thibodaux, Louisiana. The Colonels have made trips to the FCS Playoffs in back to back seasons. With the 2020 season being moved to the Spring, Senior P.J. Burkhalter is one to watch. Coming into his Senior season, Burkhalter was named to a plethora of preseason awards. His ability and work ethic is second to none. I’ve seen him play with my own eyes. He allowed current The Spring League Alphas Quaeterback Chase Fourcade time to light it up in the Southland Conference. His play also allowed for the Colonels running backs to run wild. In 2019 he was named Southland Offensive Lineman of the Year. 

Burkhalter and the Colonels will open up their 2021 Spring season in February. 

The six-game, single round-robin football schedule will feature each team playing three home and three away games over an eight-week period.  Each team will have multiple open dates during the slate to provide flexibility if schedule changes are necessary.  The revised schedule for the two-time defending champion Colonels will bring Lamar (Feb. 27) to Thibodaux for the conference opener. The two other home games are UIW (March 27) and the annual River Bell Classic against Southeastern Louisiana (April 10) to close out the spring. Road games include Northwestern State (March 6), Sam Houston (March 13) and McNeese (April 3). 



– Athlon Sports FCS Preseason All-America Team

– College Football America Yearbook (CFA) FCS Preseason Starting Lineup

– HERO Sports FCS Preseason All-America First Team

– Stats Perform FCS Preseason All-America First Team

– Phil Steele FCS Preseason All-America First Team

– All-Southland Preseason First Team


– Associated Press (AP) FCS All-America First Team

– STATS FCS All-America First Team

– Phil Steele FCS All-America First Team

– Walter Camp FCS All-America

– HERO Sports FCS All-America Second Team

– Southland Conference Offensive Lineman of the Year

– All-Southland First Team

– All-Louisiana First Team


– All-Southland Honorable Mention

2019 Season (Junior): Started all 14 games on the offensive line at center and guard… was one of the top linemen in the nation, earning five All-American honors — four on first team… was named Southland Offensive Lineman of the Year… offense led the Southland with 197.1 yards rushing per game, which ranked 25th in the FCS… RB Julien Gums set school records in rushing yards for a single season (1,232) and touchdowns (16)… Gums ranked 11th in the FCS in rushing yards… line had the third fewest sacks allowed in the Southland with 29.

2018 Season (Redshirt Sophomore): Started on the offensive line, playing at guard and center… offense ranked 12th in the FCS in rushing yards (246.8) and total yards (474.0)… RB Dontrell Taylor was named All-Southland Second Team and ranked seventh in the FCS in yards per carry (7.2)… team averaged 32.3 points, ranking 28th in the country… line allowed 25 sacks, which was third best in the Southland.

2017 Season (Redshirt Freshman): Started all 12 games on the offensive line at left guard… offensive line paved way for seven 100-yard rushing performances by four different players… RB Kyran Irvin was second in SLC in rushing yards per game… Nicholls ranked 2nd in SLC in rushing, helped by one 400-yard game and one 300-yard outing… unit allowed only 20 sacks, which was fourth fewest in the SLC.

At Franklinton: Was a four-year letter winner on the Demon offensive line… received honorable mention 4A All-State as a senior… helped lead the Demons to the quarterfinals in 2013 and to the semifinals in 2014… played for head coach Shane Smith.


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