Buchanan Award finalist Laiche a dominating pass rusher
By CRAIG HALEY
(STATS) - If it seemed no offensive line could block Sully Laiche this season, consider how physical limitations didn't slow him down, either.
The Nicholls defensive end had back surgery in the summer and it was unsure if he would play in 2019 while he sat out preseason camp and then didn't make his debut until the third game.
Sickened by the flu, he was limited to one practice during the week of Senior Day yet came back to lead a win over McNeese and claim Southland Conference defensive player of the week.
His senior season was phenomenal, and the first defensive player to win the conference's overall player of the year since 2007 is a finalist for the 25th annual STATS FCS Buck Buchanan Award.
Laiche, pronounced Lesh (like mesh), had a second home in opposing backfields while Nicholls earned a share of its second consecutive Southland championship. In less than 11 full games, the 6-foot-2, 270-pound All-American racked up 63 tackles, 22½ tackles for loss and 12 sacks and forced four fumbles.
"What Sully has meant to this program over the last couple of years, I can't even describe it," coach Tim Rebowe said. "He is one of the best players I've ever been around. He works at it on and off the field all the time - at practice, in the weight room and in film. What you see in the game is what he does it in practice every day - he practices hard and never takes a play off."
The re-emergence of Nicholls football started with Laiche's freshman season in 2016. In the first 20 seasons of the 21st century, Laiche ranks in the top five of FCS players in career sacks (37½) and top 15 of career tackles for loss (62).
The Buchanan Award winner will be announced at the STATS national awards banquet on Jan. 10 in Frisco, Texas. Also up for the award are James Madison defensive end Ron'Dell Carter and Montana linebacker Dante Olson.
Updated January 3, 2020