Players from Mississippi’s “Big 3” highlight this year’s finalists for the 22nd presentation of the C Spire Conerly Trophy, which goes to the state’s top collegiate player.
Southern Miss running back Ito Smith, Ole Miss receiver A.J. Brown and Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald are joined by Alcorn State running back De’Lance Turner, Belhaven quarterback Hunter McEachern, Delta State running back Chris Robinson, Jackson State linebacker Shawn bishop, Millsaps linebacker Jacob Kendall, Mississippi College defensive back Chris Manning and Mississippi Valley State defensive back Mark Pegues.
Fitzgerald has completed 56 percent of his passes this season for 1,770 yards and 15 touchdowns against 10 interceptions. He has also proven himself to be one of the SEC’s most dangerous runners at quarterback. This season, Fitzgerald has broke free for 968 yards — fifth among all SEC players — and 14 touchdowns, which are third in the conference.
Brown leads the SEC and ranks seventh nationally in receiving yards per game at 98.6 and his 10 receiving touchdowns are top in the conference. His 1,085 yards rank third all-time in Ole Miss’ single season record books. He also has 69 receptions.
Smith has been USM’s lead rusher this year, collecting 1,226 yards and 12 touchdowns. He has also caught 33 passes for 358 yards and two touchdowns.
Robinson is the other finalist with a Coast connection. The DSU running back is a Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College product. This year, Robinson has rushed for 1,263 yards and 17 touchdowns. He has also caught 27 passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns.
A panel of sports media will select the winner after a six-day online fan vote, which begins at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday. conducted by C Spire. Fans can vote daily through Facebook, Twitter, text message or by visiting csopavoting.com. The presentation will be 5:30 p.m. Nov. 28 at the Hilton-Jackson, located at 1001 County Line Road. Advance tickets are required to attend. This year’s speaker is former Ole Miss and New Orleans Saints quarterback Archie Manning.
The award is named after former Ole Miss and New York Giants great Charlie Conerly, who is in the College Football Hall of Fame.