The Northwestern State defense placed a pair of players on the preseason All-Southland Conference Football Team, announced Wednesday morning by the conference office.
Linebacker Ja’Quay Pough was a first-team selection by the league’s coaches, giving the Demons a second straight season with a first teamer.
In 2019, Pough, a senior from Sherman, Texas, became the first Demon to record 100 tackles in a season since 2014, finishing with 101 stops. A 6-foot-1, 230-pounder, Pough is NSU’s lone first-team selection. A season ago, Hayden Bourgeois was named preseason first-team all-conference.
In addition to leading the Demons in tackles, Pough ranked second in the Southland Conference in forced fumbles per game (0.25). Pough’s three forced fumbles were a team high and his three sacks were one shy of the team lead shared by Jomard Valsin and O’Shea Jackson, earning him third-team all-conference honors.
“You look at the positions we have guys coming back, like linebacker led by Ja’Quay Pough,” said third-year head coach Brad Laird. “He’s a guy who stepped up in his first year here. He had over 100 tackles, the first time we’ve had one since 2014. I’m really excited because of the things he did last year, but more so for the expectations he’s put on himself and we have for him as coaches.”
Much like Pough, cornerback Shemar Bartholomew saw his production rise in the second half of the 2019 season.
A preseason second-team all-conference defensive back, Bartholomew led Northwestern State with four interceptions – three of which came in the final two games of the season. Bartholomew produced his second career multi-pick game in the season finale against Stephen F. Austin.
An honorable mention HERO Sports Sophomore All-American, Bartholomew was a third-team All-Southland Conference selection as a sophomore and enters the 2020 season with six career interceptions, a mark that places him in the top 30 active FCS players. He needs five more interceptions to enter the top 10 in school history.
“He really came on late during the season,” Laird said of the New Orleans native. “He had the big (interception) right before halftime that put us ahead of Sam Houston State. Both of those guys will be the first to tell you they wouldn’t have been able to do it without their teammates, and both of them have worked hard to put themselves in position to have a great 2020 season.”
Northwestern State is scheduled to open its 2020 season in Turpin Stadium on Sept. 3 against Southland Conference foe Incarnate Word.