Life in the Backfield

Half a sack.

Sully Laiche, one of the most decorated football players to come through Nicholls, finished his career with 37.5 sacks. That is enough for second all-time in Southland Conference history. Just half a sack would see him tied
for first.

One can make an argument that if he hadn’t battled injuries throughout his career that the record would be his. It is an argument he is familiar with, but he comes at it from a different perspective.

“To be honest, my career would not have been as remarkable as it was without the injuries,” Laiche says. “It’s because of how I had to come back from it and learn what kind of man I was.

“I was all the way to where I didn’t think I was going to play ball anymore. And it gave me the strength to come back even better.”

Laiche was part of the 2019-20 senior class that rejuvenated the Colonels football program. The class helped Nicholls win back-to-back Southland Conference titles and sent the team to the FCS playoffs three years in a row, including two trips to the second round.

Coach Tim Rebowe says in high school Laiche spent so much time in the backfield that when his recruitment came down to the wire, he was afraid a larger program would scoop up the defensive end.

“Guys just could not block him,” Rebowe
says. “I couldn’t believe we had gotten him to come here. But true to his word, he stuck to his commitment.”

For Laiche, Rebowe’s vision for turning the program around was convincing. But more important than that, he says he saw the coach backing those words up in the caliber of player he was bringing to Nicholls. Those players were his fellow seniors — Chase Fourcade, Dontrell Taylor, Khristian Mims, Allen Pittman, Evan Veron and Laryon James — guys from around
the state who were committed to winning.

“My mindset was, ‘Just how do you want to be remembered?’ That’s how I took to the field, let my play speak for itself.” – Sully Laiche

It is one thing to individually not accept losing, but you also have to put it all together. Laiche says that is what separated the Colonels from their opponents.

“To me, that’s where the team bonding outside of football comes in,” he says. “Sure, you can practice together but what are you doing after practice? If you are hanging out with the team outside of football, it means you mean something to the other person. And that carries over to the field where everyone is going to have each other’s back and be accountable to each other.”

Laiche was thrown into the fire right in his first game for Nicholls on the road against No. 9 Georgia. Though the Colonels almost pulled off the upset – losing 26-24 – Laiche showed up on a big stage against an SEC opponent, tallying four total tackles, including one for a loss. He says he had something he wanted to prove.

“A lot of players from bigger schools go in thinking, ‘You’re six inches shorter than me so I can push you around,’” the 6’2, 270-pound lineman says. “This is where you show them you have heart and that’s not the case.”

Laiche’s career includes many highlights and too many accolades to list. In the end, he was a four-time All-Southland selection, ranks second all-time in the Southland with 37.5 sacks and 62.0 tackles for loss and won Southland Conference Player of the Year in 2019.

So how did Laiche pull off his life in the backfield? It starts in the offseason with all the running he does to make sure he starts the season in football shape. That then translates to the protect the house drills in practice. And in the fourth quarter, when everyone is tired and you’ve been out there for 70-plus snaps, that you have more left in the tank than the next guy.

“A lot of my plays were not the most spectacular freak athletic plays, they were hustle, hustle plays,” Laiche says. “My mindset was, ‘Just how do you want to be remembered?’ That’s how I took to the field, let my play speak for itself.”

­- Cain Madden