Trio of Demons earn Academic All-Southland honors

Before voting for the Southland Conference Football All-Academic Team took place, Northwestern State already had two players on the squad.

The voters added a third.

Senior offensive lineman Chris Zirkle and senior safety Ryan Reed had earned inclusion on the team after being named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District 6 Team this past month. When the conference all-academic team was announced Friday, the pair was joined by junior tight end David Fitzwater, giving the Demons at least three academic all-conference selections for the second time in three seasons. The team was chosen by votes from league coaches, sports information directors and academic services personnel.

Reed selection made him a four-time Southland All-Academic honoree as well as a three-time CoSIDA Academic All-District pick. A West Feliciana product, Reed finished second on the team in tackles with 75 and tied for second in pass breakups (4) and interceptions (2).

Zirkle was a second-team All-Southland Conference honoree on the field and nabbed the third academic all-conference honor of his career. Zirkle was a key cog for an NSU offensive line that allowed just 24 sacks on 557 dropbacks (4.3 percent). A League City, Texas, product, Zirkle averaged double-figure knockdown blocks across a five-game stretch from Sept. 14-Oct. 26.

Fitzwater, a junior from Shreveport’s Calvary Baptist Academy, caught 16 passes for 187 yards and a touchdown in his first season at NSU after transferring from Tulsa. His touchdown catch came at then-No. 4 LSU on Sept. 14, pulling the Demons within 17-14 at that point. He holds a 3.79 grade point average as an allied science and health major.

Northwestern State’s three selections made the Demons one of four teams with that many representatives on the team. Abilene Christian had the most picks – five – on the 25-man team.