Southeastern voted to top spot in 2021 Southland Conference football preseason poll

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Cole Kelley
(Photo: Randy Bergeron)

Lions receive eight first-place votes

FRISCO, Texas – Southeastern is the preseason favorite for the 2021 Southland Conference football season, the league announced Thursday. The Lions received eight first-place votes and 48 total points to garner the top spot in the poll, presented by Jostens.

Nicholls follows closely in second with four first-place votes and 43 points. UIW was voted to the third spot with 32 points, and McNeese earned 26 spots in the poll to come in at fourth. Northwestern State (21) and Houston Baptist (10) round out the predicted order of finish.

The Lions led the way with 16 total selections on the preseason all-conference teams, including senior quarterback and reigning Walter Payton award winner, Cole Kelley. Despite finishing No. 20/21 in the polls, SLU (4-3, 4-2 SLC) just missed out on back-to-back FCS playoff appearances after the field was cut to 16 teams because of the pandemic.

The Colonels grabbed 11 preseason all-conference honors and five on the first-team offense, including two-time defending Southland Offensive Lineman of the Year PJ Burkhalter and fellow linemen Jair Joseph and Evan Roussel. Nicholls ranked third nationally in rushing (263.4) and second in tackles for loss allowed per game (3.71) last season.

Among the Cardinals’ 15 preseason all-conference nods is quarterback Cameron Ward, who became the first Southland student-athlete to win the Jerry Rice Award as the FCS freshman of the year in 2020, as well as All-American running back Kevin Brown. UIW returns all but two starters from last season.

Set for their first full fall season under head coach Frank Wilson, the Cowboys look to right the ship and return to the FCS playoffs for the first time since 2015. Defensive end Isaiah Chambers returns after finishing fourth in the voting for the Buck Buchanan Award and leading the league in sacks (7.5) and TFL (14.0).

The Demons are coming off a 1-5 campaign this spring with four of their losses coming by eight points or less, and the Huskies are tasked with filling the shoes of quarterback Bailey Zappe, who topped 10,000 yards and threw for 78 touchdowns in four years as the starter.

The Southland Conference preseason poll is voted on by each head coach and football sports information director. Each voter ranks their predicted order of regular season finish, not including their own team. First-place votes are worth five points, second-place votes are worth four and so on to one point for fifth place.

2021 Southland Conference Football Preseason Poll
Team (First-place votes) Total
1. Southeastern (8) 48
2. Nicholls (4) 43
3. UIW 32
4. McNeese 26
5. Northwestern State 21
6. Houston Baptist 10

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