SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA (KPLC) - We are just two weeks away from KPLC’s coverage of TDL: Two-A-Days and to get ready we continue our 7-in-Seven countdown.
Countdowns will include topics from McNeese to high school football. A new countdown each week, beginning every Monday.
We continue the countdown with the top seven McNeese impact players this upcoming season.
7. Justin Pratt, Running back
Coming in at number 7 is Justin Pratt. The running back hasn't been one for the lead back role, but the Cowboy scat back has been a consistent contributor in the run game over the last three seasons. Pratt has totaled over 1,400 yards and 10 touchdowns during his time with McNeese.
Pratt is heading into his senior season year with a big role of leading a young running back corps.
Cowboys on Pratt:
“Justin Pratt is really good with the ball in his hands. Has an enact for getting skinny in the hole,” head coach Sterlin Gilbert said.
“Justin Pratt is an old head that doesn’t say much. He is probably one of the toughest running backs, low to the earth as a person and as a football player," defensive end Chris Livings said. "He’s hard to take down because he just goes. Through pain, he goes. He might have an injury, but you won’t be able to tell because he’ll still be going a hundred percent.”
“Justin Pratt is a veteran. He came in with me in the class of 2016," Quarterback Cody Orgeron said. "He was one of the few that played as a true freshman. Pratt is the veteran of the running back group. I have nothing but good things to say about Justin. He’s a stud football player.”
6. JoVon Burriss, Defensive back
JoVon Burriss was a huge piece to DWA in 2018, earning a starting spot after a breakout spring. His impact a year ago is what makes him number six on our countdown. The safety finished last season with 48 total tackles along with two interceptions.
With the loss of All-American linebacker, BJ Blunt, Burriss is next in line to be the vocal leader on this defense.
Cowboys on Burriss:
“Great smile, great character," said McNeese head coach Sterlin Gilbert. “He will come downhill and hit you.”
“That’s my dog. He’s a real vocal guy, but at the same time he backs it up,” defensive end Chris Livings said. "I feel very confident in him being back there with all the other secondary. I trust my guys back there.”
He’s a leader on our defense, JUCO transfer," quarterback Cody Orgeron said. "He’s going to be an anchor on defense. You’ve got Von, Colby, and Chris that will all play huge roles on our defense. But Von will be holding down our secondary and overseeing everything.”
5. Cody Orgeron, Quarterback
Quarterback Cody Orgeron comes in at number 5. Last season, the QB made his first start for the Cowboys in week eight against No. 13 Central Arkansas, leading the Cowboys to a 23-21 victory.
Coach O's son finished 2018 with just under 600 yards and three touchdowns. His maturation this spring and summer aided in his goal to become the full-time starter for the Cowboys this upcoming season.
Cowboys on Orgeron:
“Cody Orgeron— He’s the top dog. He’s the head honcho right now. he’s going to be running our offense. We’re all behind him," said defensive end Chris Livings. "If we’re all behind him and we’ve got God on our side, who should we fear?”
“He carries every intangible there is for a quarterback. He’s a great leader," said head coach Sterlin Gilbert. "Highly, Highly competitive. Glad he’s our quarterback.”
“Leader with a chip on his shoulder. I’m just a fierce competitor. I’ve been doubted all my life so there’s always a chip on my shoulder," admitted Orgeron. "I’m ready to show the world what God’s blessed me with.”
4. Cyron Sutton, Wide receiver
Number 4 on our list is McNeese wide receiver, Cyron Sutton. He impressed many in 2018 after totaling over 650 total yards and four touchdowns. He'll be asked to lead a receiving corps that loses two of the four leading receivers from a year ago.
Last year, Sutton led the Cowboys in receptions and receiving while also being a major factor in the return game. He returned a 73-yard punt vs. ACU that landed him a Southland player of the week honor.
Cowboys on Sutton:
Sterlin Gilbert: “Sutton – Explosive”
“He is a guy that is unique. He’s a guy that can just play ball. He’s a really funny guy," said Livings. "I look forward to him being a big contributor to the offense.”
“That’s my man right there. A lot of all-purpose yards. He’s dynamic in the slot, he can make plays from the slot and outside,” Orgeron said. "Anywhere really, he can make plays. You could put him in the backfield, and he’ll make plays. He’s a very versatile player and were going to be counting on him a lot this season.”
3. Grant Burguillos, Offensive guard
A position group that McNeese has lacked consistency in the past few years has been the offensive line. That changed in 2018 as Grant Burguillos became an anchor on the line eventually earning all-conference honors.
The offensive lineman was present for 686 of the 736 total team snaps in 2018 and allowed just two sacks of the year.
Cowboys on Burguillos:
“Grant Burguillos – He’s been here since my freshman year and we’ve had plenty of fights on the football field," said Orgeron. "He’s a tough guy and a hard worker. He’s the anchor of our offensive line.”
“Grant Burguillos – He’s a stud,"said Livings. "All-Conference guard. The leader of our offensive line. The anchor of our offensive line, he holds down everyone in the trenches. He’s the engine to our trenches. Grant plays a huge role in our offense.”
2. Chris Livings, Defensive end
Chris Livings comes in at number two after his 2018 outing for the Cowboys. He finished the season with 28 total tackles, 10.5 coming for a loss and he sacked opposing quarterbacks eight times.
The Barbe alum was third in the Southland Conference in sacks thanks to a record-breaking performance vs ACU.
Livings tied the McNeese record with five sacks.. The All-Southland lineman sits just 10.5 sacks away from tying the career mark with the Pokes set by Bryan Smith.
“Chris Livings – Baller," Gilbert said. "Great all-around kid. He makes a ton of plays. He’s a leader. He’s such a valuable guy to our football team.”
“I’ve been here for a while. I just try to find something I can get better every day and achieve on it," Livings said. "I just try to achieve what I’m trying to look for every day. I don’t want to go into practice to just go in, I need to be going into practice hard because I don’t have many practices left playing in my home town. I cherish this stuff because it’s not promised to anyone.”
“Honestly, I hate practicing against him because he’s that much of a fierce rushing on the edge, he’s always sacking me. He’s a stud," Orgeron added. "I feel bad for opposing quarterbacks being in the pocket across from him.”
1. Colby Burton, Defensive back
Colby Burton comes in as our top impact player for the upcoming McNeese football season.
Burton is the only 2018 first-team All-Southland Conference player returning for the Pokes. The cornerback broke up 10 passes and grabbed two interceptions a year ago to help lead the Southland's second-best defense.
For the third straight season, Burton will be relied on to make 'The Hole' a no-fly zone.
“Coly Burton – He’s special and a leader," Gilbert said. "I go back to our workouts this past week and just his leadership when he stepped up in a moment, we needed a leader.”
“Colby Burton – He’s probably one of the hardest working DB’s in college football. FBS, FCS, DII, DI. He’s a technician and holds everyone accountable," Livings said. "Coach, player, walk on; nobody is flying under the radar.”
“All around great kid, great player. Can do it all. Technician, leader," Orgeron stated. "He’s just a truly gifted kid that has it all.”