JACKSON — Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace and Mississippi State offensive guard Gabe Jackson lead a list of 10 nominees for the 2013 C Spire Conerly Trophy, which annually honors the top college football player in the Magnolia State.
Wallace, who hopes to be the first back-to-back winner of the award, and Jackson, who would to be the first offensive lineman to receive the honor, join a list of finalists from eight other schools vying for the coveted award, which is named after College Football Hall of Famer Charlie Conerly, who also starred for the New York Giants.
The other eight finalists are prolific running backs Arnold Walker of Alcorn State and Mike Barthelemy of Millsaps College; quarterbacks Clayton Moore of Jackson State and Johnathan 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 annual C Spire Conerly Trophy will be awarded on 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.
For the first time in the award’s history, the general public also 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 news media representatives who cover Mississippi college football. Fan voting begins today at 8 a.m. and concludes 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 up to three times a day by Facebook, Twitter and via text messaging. For entry rules and qualifications on fan voting, go to www.cspire.com/conerly.
If Wallace wins, he would join some rare company. Manning won the Conerly as a sophomore and again as a senior. He is the only two-time winner of the award.
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 announced later this week. The award will be presented 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 include:
- Wallace, a junior from Pulaski, Tenn., who led East Mississippi Community College to a national championship as a freshman, ranks third in the SEC and 24th nationally in total offense (286 years per game) and fourth in the 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 years, 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.
- Jackson, a massive 340-pound fifth-year senior from Liberty, Miss., has not allowed a sack this season and has consistently graded out a champion (80 percent and above). He has twice been named the SEC lineman of the week and is listed at our 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 Brave 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, Miss. 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 the Eagles with 6.5 tackles for loss. For his career, he has been in on 30 tackles for losses and 116 total 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, Miss., 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, Ala., 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, a 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 Belhaven.
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. dinner program. Sportscaster Ron Franklin will emcee the event.