When Chase Fourcade arrived on the Nicholls campus in Thibodaux in 2016, he became an instant team leader.
He has always been focused on saying team before individual.
So, it came as no surprise that when Fourcade was informed he had been named to the preseason STATS FCS All-America Third Team, he deflected it from himself to those around him.
“When I found out, I thought it was something that was great for us players and the school as well. Getting that recognition and getting that out there for the upcoming season is a great feeling. I’m just blessed for getting that award and I will carry that on into the season. I know they (his Colonel teammates) are, too. It will motivate us to be even better than last year and I feel we are highly motivated.”
To be even better than last year would be a quite lofty status for Fourcade and his Colonel teammates.
A nationally-ranked team, Nicholls went 9-4 a year ago in winning the Southland Conference title and reaching the second round of the FCS playoffs.
Fourcade played the leading role in that success, completing 214 of 352 passes for 2,930 yards with 21 touchdowns and only eight interceptions.
Going into his senior season, Fourcade holds many of the school’s career passing marks and should own them all when the 2019 season is over.
For his career, Fourcade is 577 of 1,015 passing for 7,728 yards and 53 touchdowns. The completions and passing yards already are a Nicholls record. He needs only six more passing attempts and six touchdown passes to take over first place in those categories as well.
All of the marks being broken were held by Doug Hudson, who played at Nicholls from 1983-86.
Hudson was a tall, prototypical looking passer. That’s not the case for Fourcade. Like many others who arrived at Nicholls in 2016, they were considered either a bit too short or a few pounds too light for their positions.
“It’s something we really take pride in,” Fourcade said. “I don’t think we are trying to prove people wrong. Everybody knows Nicholls State now and where we are headed and the future of the program.”
Everybody may know Nicholls now, especially after becoming a ranked team, winning the Southland Conference title a year ago and making back-to-back Football Championship Subdivision playoff appearances for the first time in school history.
That’s a far cry from what Fourcade and his recruiting class face going into Nicholls.
Nicholls help the nation’s longest losing streak in the nation when Fourcade was a sophomore at Archbishop Rummel. When he was a senior, the Colonels went 3-8 under first-year coach Tim Rebowe.
The team has gone 5-6, 8-4 and 9-4 since Fourcade’s arrival.
“I feel like when we all came in as freshmen, we all had that winning mentality,” Fourcade said. “We had that work ethic that a lot of other coaches from around the country just skipped on and skipped over. We just have that heart to win and that passion to really go and get it each and every day. It doesn’t matter who we play or where we play, we will come with it every day.
“We all knew we could get it done. It was just a matter of everybody buying in and really trusting Coach Rebowe’s word. We are at that point now, you can just tell with summer workouts, everybody is working, everybody is competing and everybody just want to brings it each and every day.”
Fourcade has been able to set so many new career marks by virtue of being a starter in his very first collegiate game in 2016 when the Colonels almost upset SEC power Georgia.
Not only has Fourcade rallied is offensive mates around him, Colonel defenders have developed a strong respect for the Nicholls signal caller as well.
“He’s been the leader on the offensive side, so we now exactly what we need to do,” said defensive lineman Sully Laiche.
Laiche is part of the same recruiting class as Fourcade. The Lutcher product has been to the Nicholls defense what Fourcade has been to the offense, and then some. Laiche has made numerous All-America teams over the years, including the first team from the same group that recognized Fourcade.
Like Fourcade, linebacker Evan Veron also received third-team All-America honors. Veron, out of Riverside Academy, also is part of the same recruiting class as Fourcade and Laiche.
“He comes to work. He’s a football addict. You can’t say enough about Chase. He’s just a born winner. He knows what it takes to win and elevate himself to the level of being able to perform under pressure like he’s been the last few years and break the records,” said Veron.
A close bond has developed with the young players who came in as freshmen in 2016 and are about to embark on their senior season.
It’s perhaps that bond, more than anything else, that allowed them to turn the Nicholls program around like they promised four years ago, according to Fourcade.
“I think the biggest thing with this group is we are family,” Fourcade said. “I think from Day 1, June 1 of 2016 to this day forward, we are all family. We really know what it takes to win ball games and build Thibodaux and this community – you can just tell by the support each and every year – what we do on the field really shows how the community acts and everybody supporting Nicholls State football. You can feel it in the community.”