Hayden Bourgeois’ knack for forcing turnovers nearly was unparalleled among FCS football players regardless of classification in 2018.
Bourgeois was honored Tuesday by Hero Sports with a first-team spot on its Sophomore All-America team.
A 5-foot-11, 184-pound Notre Dame (Crowley) High School product, Bourgeois was a first-team All-Southland Conference selection after leading Northwestern State with 83 tackles while starting 10 of NSU’s 11 games. It was Bourgeois’ ability to provide the Demons’ with extra possessions that made him an honors candidate.
“Hayden has had two fumble recoveries, five interceptions and a blocked kick,” first-year head coach Brad Laird said. “He has a knack for the ball, and he’s a football player. That’s the biggest thing I can say.
“Every day in practice and in every game, he’s a football player who will help this team be better.”
Bourgeois’ five interceptions led the Southland Conference and ranked eighth nationally. Coupled with his two fumble recoveries, Bourgeois’ seven turnovers produced ranked third nationally.
Bourgeois was joined on the first-team defensive backfield by Sam Houston State’s Zyon McCollum as the Southland Conference’s representatives on the team.
Bourgeois recorded nine tackles in four separate games this season – against Nicholls, Sam Houston State, Houston Baptist and at Abilene Christian. He had a two-interception game in a 34-7 win against Grambling on Sept. 8 and tipped another pass that teammate Rashaun Croney intercepted in the end zone against the Tigers.
He added a 55-yard interception return for a touchdown against Sam Houston State that gave Northwestern State a five-point lead at the half.
More than just a safety, Bourgeois was a productive punt returner, collecting 108 yards on 16 returns, including returns of 17 and 29 yards that sparked the Demons’ 37-34 comeback win against nationally ranked McNeese on Nov. 10.
Bourgeois added a blocked field goal that forced a second overtime against the Cowboys.
He becomes the third Northwestern State player named to an All-American team this season, joining wide receiver Jazz Ferguson (second-team STATS, third-team Associated Press) and kick returner Myles Ward (honorable mention Freshman All-American by Hero Sports).
Bourgeois is the first Demons defensive back named All-American since Imoan Claiborne In 2014 and is the first NSU safety to earn that honor since Mike Green repeated as an All-American in 1999. He becomes the 48th different player In school history honored as an All-American dating to Walter Ledet’s selection in 1938.
Photo Credit: Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services