JACKSON, Miss., Nov. 27, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Mississippi State’s Jeffery Simmons, one of the nation’s top defensive tackles this season, won the C Spire Conerly Trophy Tuesday night as the Magnolia state’s top college football player in 2018.

Mississippi State junior Jeffery Simmons became the first defensive tackle in the 23-year history of the C Spire Conerly Trophy to win the annual award that recognizes the Magnolia State's top college football player.  - photo courtesy of Mississippi State Athletics

Simmons, a junior from Macon, Mississippi and a pre-season All-American, led the SEC with 59 tackles, including 24 solo tackles.  He edged out three other finalists for the award, including Ole Miss wide receiver and 2017 winner A. J. Brown, Southern Miss wide receiver Quez Watkins and Alcorn State quarterback Noah Johnson.

The trophy was presented during a sold-out Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame awards banquet in Jackson, Mississippi, which also featured special remarks from former Ole Miss and New Orleans Saints great Deuce McAllister.  The award is named after Charlie Conerly, a Mississippi Sports Hall of Famer, college All-American, an NFL rookie of the year and NFL All-Pro who quarterbacked the New York Giants to a world championship.

The other six award nominees from Mississippi’s 10 public universities and colleges were Jackson State place kicker and punter Christian Jacquemin, Mississippi Valley State receiver and running back Booker Chambers, Mississippi College running back Tiberias Lampkin, Millsaps College linebacker Chandler Coleman, Belhaven University linebacker Denarrius Noel and Delta State quarterback Patrick Shegog.

Mississippi State senior center Elgton Jenkins received the 6th annual Kent Hull Trophy as Mississippi’s top college offensive lineman in 2018. The award is named for the late Kent Hull, a Mississippi State and Buffalo Bills pro football standout.

Simmons also won the fan voting portion with 13,894 votes, which counted for 10 percent of the award.  Brown finished second with 9,671 votes and Jacquemin was third with 8,561 votes.  College football fans cast a record 44,175 votes online during the week-long voting period.  A panel of statewide sports media representatives decided the remaining 90 percent of the award.

Previous winners of the C Spire Conerly Trophy include former and current NFL players such as Dak Prescott, Eli Manning, Anthony Dixon, Patrick Willis, Deuce McAllister, Jerious Norwood, Michael Boley and Evan Engram.  Prescott and Manning are the only two-time winners in the award’s 23-year history.  

Simmons, a semifinalist for the 2018 Bendnarik Award, was fifth in the SEC with 14.5 tackles for loss and a sack.  He is one of the most highly rated defensive interior linemen in the nation and the fourth best run defender in the FBS with 28 stops, 22 total pressures and 17 hurries, according to Pro Football Focus.

“I’m truly thankful for the opportunity to play football and for the love and support from my teammates, coaches and family,” Simmons said.  “It’s an honor to receive this award and I’m grateful to the many, many people who encouraged me to never give up.”

C Spire has sponsored the outstanding player awards program for all major college sports in Mississippi since 1998.  “We’re very pleased with the caliber of players selected as nominees and finalists for the C Spire Conerly Trophy this year,” said Jim Richmond, vice president of Marketing for C Spire. “Our winner is not only a great football player, but an outstanding young man with good character, a leader with a positive attitude and a terrific work ethic.”

About C Spire
C Spire is a leading technology company committed to transforming Mississippi through the C Spire Tech Movement, which includes the massive deployment of broadband internet to homes and small businesses, technology innovation leadership and the creation and retention of a 21st century technology workforce in its region.  The company provides world-class, customer-inspired wireless communications, 1 Gigabit consumer Internet access as well as a full suite of dedicated Internet, wireless, IP Voice, data and cloud services for businesses.  This news release and other announcements are available at www.cspire.com/news. For more information about C Spire, visit www.cspire.com or follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cspire or Twitter at www.twitter.com/cspire

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