Picking Up The Blitz
Coming off back-to-back Southland Conference titles, Coach Tim Rebowe has given Colonel fans nothing less than championship expectations. His success started in 2015 with his first signing class. One of his original signees was offensive lineman P.J. Burkhalter, who has become a standout while in Thibodaux.
The All-State selection at Franklinton High School has helped pave the way for one of the best offenses in the Southland Conference, racking up first-team All-Southland, All-American and Southland Conference Offensive Lineman of the Year designations along the way.
But the road has not always been easy for him.
Soon after arriving on campus, he found out that he would have to wait to make his collegiate debut. Suffering from low kidney function, he had to miss his first two seasons. Despite these life-altering setbacks, he remained optimistic.
“The experience has made me appreciate the small things in life a lot more because you never know when something you love can be taken away from you,” he says.
The champion mindset Burkhalter adopted off the field helped him get back on the field. He looked at his condition and turned it into something positive.
“The experience has made me appreciate the small things in life a lot more because you never know when something you love can be taken away from you.”
“I’m glad that happened to me because I would not be the person I am today,” he says.
During his time off the field, he focused on getting better every day by lifting weights, eating right and focusing on school.
“I was consistent and stayed ready because I knew deep down that I would get another chance to play,” he says.
Once Burkhalter plays his final snap as a Colonel he hopes to continue playing football at the professional level. After his playing career is over, he plans to give back to the game and return as an offensive line coach.
The 2020 season has brought another setback out of his control in the form of COVID-19. The global pandemic has postponed the start of the 2020 football season and put everyone in a position they have never been in before. Burkhalter is no stranger to waiting to play.
“There is a lot of uncertainty in the world right now because of COVID, and things are changing by the hour,” he says. “I just go back to controlling what I can control, and that’s wearing a mask, social distancing and washing my hands frequently. I’m just keeping the faith that all this will pass eventually.”
— Brandon Thomas