From Special reports
Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace hopes to become the first player to win the C Spire Conerly Trophy in consecutive years, and Mississippi State offensive guard Gabe Jackson bids to become the first offensive lineman to ever win the award.
Wallace and Jackson are two of the 10 finalists named by their respective schools Monday for the award that goes annually to the player voted Mississippi’s most outstanding college football player.
Joining Jackson and Wallace as finalists are prolific running backs Arnold Walker of Alcorn State and Mike Barthelemy of Millsaps; quarterbacks Clayton Moore of Jackson State and Jonathan Redd of Mississippi College; offensive lineman Matt Hall of Belhaven; wide receiver Ricky Hunt of Delta State; defensive tackle Khyri Thornton of Southern Miss; and cornerback Avery Boykin of Mississippi Valley State.
The 18th C Spire Conerly Trophy will be awarded Dec. 3 at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum in Jackson. Among past winners were such prominent future NFL standouts as Eli Manning, Deuce McAllister, Jerious Norwood, Michael Boley, Patrick Willis, Anthony Dixon and many others. In 2014, McAllister, the leading rusher and touchdown scorer in Ole Miss and New Orleans Saints history, will be the first C Spire Conerly winner to enter the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. Tickets are available at 601-982-8264 or at msfame.com. There will be a 5:30 p.m. reception followed by a 6:30 p.m. banquet.
Manning won the Conerly as a sophomore and again as a senior. He is the only two-time winner of the award named for College Football Hall of Famer Charlie Conerly, who also starred for the New York Giants.
For the first time in history of the C Spire Conerly, the general public has the opportunity to be involved in the voting through social media. Fan voting will account for 10 percent of the vote. The other 90 percent will come from a statewide panel of media who cover Mississippi college football. Fan voting will begin on Nov. 26 at 8 a.m. and conclude on Dec. 2 at 8 a.m.
Just as the media voters do, fans will vote for a first-place, second-place and third-place winner. Fans will be able to vote by Facebook, Twitter and via text messaging. For entry rules and qualifications on fan voting, go to www.cspire.com/conerly.
Jackson, a preseason All-America guard, is also one of the frontrunners for the first Kent Hull Trophy, which will be selected by a panel of experts (including former college coaches, players and pro scouts) and will be announced later this week and will be awarded at the C Spire Conerly event. Named in honor of the former Mississippi State and Buffalo Bills star, the Hull Trophy will go to the top offensive lineman in the state.
The 2013 Conerly finalists have achieved plenty, including:
• Wallace, a junior from Pulaski, Tenn., who led East Mississippi Community College to a national championship as a freshman, ranks third in SEC and 24th nationally in total offense (286 yards per game) and fourth in SEC and 24th nationally in passing (264.4 ypg). In less than two years behind center at Ole Miss, he ranks third in school history with 6,530 total yards, fourth with 5,902 passing yards, fourth with 39 touchdown passes and second with seven 300-yard passing games. He has thrown only six interceptions this year after throwing 17 last year. He is on pace to break Manning’s Ole Miss single-season yardage record.
• State’s Jackson, a massive 340-pound fifth-year senior from Liberty, has not allowed a sack this season and has consistently graded out a champion (80 percent above). He has twice been named the SEC Lineman of the Week and is listed at or near the top of draft-eligible guards on most draft experts’ lists.
• Alcorn State running back Arnold Walker, a 222-pound senior from Atlanta, led the Braves to a 9-3 record by rushing for 1,191 yards and 5.3 yards per carry. He also caught 13 passes for another 174 yards. He ran 14 times for 87 yards and caught three passes for 37 yards in the Braves’ season-ending win over JSU.
• Jackson State quarterback Clayton Moore, a senior from Louisville who originally signed with Ole Miss, has led JSU into the SWAC championship game. He completed 118 of 233 passes for 1,747 yards and 13 touchdowns (10 interceptions) and was second on the team in rushing with 603 yards and five touchdowns.
• Southern Miss senior defensive tackle Khyri Thornton, a 308-pound senior from Panama City, Fla., faced almost constant double teams this season but leads his team with 6.5 tackles for losses. For his career he has been in on 30 tackles for losses and 116 tackles.
• Millsaps running back Mike Barthelemy, a 190-pound junior from Port Sulphur, La., led the Majors to a 9-1 record by rushing for 1,386 yards and a school-record 21 touchdowns.
• Delta State wide receiver Ricky Hunt, a 175-pound junior from Sardis, finished the season with 68 catches for 840 yards and seven touchdowns. He also returned 14 punts for 221 yards (a 16-yard average) and 12 kickoffs for 265 yards (a 22-yard average).
• Mississippi College quarterback Jonathan Redd, a 195-pound junior from Mobile, became the first player in school history to record double-digit touchdown totals for passing and rushing. Despite missing two games with injuries, he threw for 18 and ran for 11 and was responsible for at least four touchdowns in each of the Choctaws’ final four games. Redd completed 58.4 percent of his passes for 1,948 yards.
• Mississippi Valley State cornerback Avery Boykin, a 190-pound junior from Wilmington, Del., led the nation in interceptions with six and was in on 57 tackles, four for losses. He also broke up seven passes.
• Belhaven offensive lineman Matt Hall, 6-foot, 10-inch, 325-pound senior offensive lineman, has drawn NFL scouts to Belhaven’s campus. Hall played at both Arkansas and Ole Miss before transferring to Ole Miss.
To order tickets to the C Spire Conerly Trophy Banquet, call 601 982-8264.