Conerly Trophy nominees gifted

Published 7:00pm Thursday, November 10, 2011

If you love college football inMississippi, the latest list of Conerly Trophy candidates shouldmake you smile. Record-setting quarterbacks and exceptionaldefensive backs highlight the menu for the 2011 award.

    There are 10 nominees for the coveted award named in honor offormer Ole Miss All-American and New York Giants All-Proquarterback Charlie Conerly. The trophy was sculpted by the lateBruce Brady of Brookhaven, a internationally known outdoors writerand sculptor.

    The Conerly Trophy, presented by C Spire Wireless, is a bronzecasting  of an originalclay sculpture. It weighs 18.5 pounds, is 19 inches high, 11 incheslong and 7.5 inches wide. The original trophy is on permanentdisplay at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum, locatedon Lakeland Dr.,  inJackson, just off I-55.

    It will be presented Nov. 29, during an awards ceremony at theMSHFM.

    Nominees for this year’s award are Southern Miss quarterback AustinDavis, Delta State quarterback Micah Davis, Jackson Statequarterback Casey Therriault, Mississippi State defensive backJohnathan Banks, Belhaven running back Justin Gaines, Ole Missdefensive back Charles Sawyer, Alcorn State wide receiver TerranceLewis, Millsaps wide receiver Jason O’Rear, Mississippi Collegedefensive back Jarrad Craine, and Valley State wide receiver PaulCox.

    Both Austin Davis and Therriault were Conerly finalists last year.The 2010 award went to Mississippi State linebacker ChrisWhite.

    If you enjoy football history, consider this list of former ConerlyTrophy winners, going back to 1996 and starting with Delta Staterunning back Tregnel Thomas.

    Other winners were Ole Miss quarterback Stewart Patridge in 1997;Mississippi State running back James Johnson in  1998, Ole Miss running back DeuceMcAllister in 1999, Delta State quarterback Josh Bright in 2000,Ole Miss quarterback Eli Manning in 2001 and 2003, Southern Misslinebacker Rod Davis in 2002,   Southern Miss linebacker MichaelBoley in 2004, Miss., State running back Jerious Norwood in 2005,Ole Miss linebacker Patrick Willis in 2006, Southern Miss runningback Damion Fletcher in 2007, Millsaps quarterback Juan Joseph in2008 and Miss. State running back Anthony Dixon in 2009.

    For sure, that’s a bus load of talented football players.

    It should be interesting to see how the voting goes. During theceremony, five finalists will be announced.  That’s two more than the previousceremonies. Coaches representing the five finalists will addressthe crowd before the winner is announced.

    Over 40 ballots will be cast by statewide media voters. Staytuned.


    Meanwhile, Professor Hoopla B.S. was last seen trying to tune in onthe latest search for an Ole Miss head football coach. Houston Nutthad back-to-back 10-win seasons featuring Cotton Bowl victoriesbefore sliding downhill the last two years and falling fromgrace.

    Four years ago, Nutt replaced Coach Ed Ogeron who didn’t win enoughgames in Oxford to suit the Rebel alumni. They didn’t appreciatehis Cajun accent, either.

     However, Ogeron leftbehind a talented stable of underclassmen who helped Ole Missregain its glory for two years. Then the talent level took a majordip as the energized, super-confident Dan Mullen took over atMississippi State and began wooing the top prospects toStarkville.

    For the past two seasons, a major downside at Ole Miss has been thelack of a solid, talented and veteran quarterback who has been inthe system. Nutt imported transfers for two years and praised theirpotential. However, some good quarterbacks became frustrated andleft Oxford during the controversy.

    For sure, recruiting can be vicious. Successful college footballprograms live and die by the number of talented athletes who signscholarships with them. In Mississippi, the competition for prizedrecruits is intense. In fact, there aren’t enough studs availableto keep one major college program afloat, much less three.

    Many of the prized prospects prefer going out of state to schoolslike LSU and Alabama. The Tigers and Tide play for nationalchampionships, not mid-level bowl games.


    On the bright side, Hoopla was looking for the gravy bowl as theevening meal approached. His latest prognosticating list smelledlike giblet gravy, with a hint of garlic.

    Hoopla predicted the winners of 22 games last week and managed toget 14 correct. Here’s a preview of this weekend’s winners,starting with some high school state playoff games.

    Brookhaven at Long Beach: Bearcats have thought about revenge for ayear. Sure enough, they’ll get it Friday night. Long Beach24-14.

    Brookhaven Academy at Simpson Academy: It appears to be anoffensive show as the BA Cougars seek to avenge a regular-seasonloss. Won’t happen. Simpson 28-20.

    Bogue Chitto at Nanih Waiya: The third time is a charm for theBobcats as they win their playoff opener. Bogue Chitto 34-28.

    Franklin County at Forest: The defending state champion Bearcatsscratch out a narrow victory. Forest 20-16.

    Hazlehurst at Collins: Indians continue their winning ways on theroad and skin the Tigers. Hazlehurst 30-18.

    McComb at Picayune: No. 4-seeded Tigers have drawn a fierce playoffopponent. Picayune 26-6.

    Forrest County AHS at South Pike: Eagles appear to be on a roll asthey win their second playoff game in Class 4A. South Pike21-13.

    After feasting on a deluxe Fox pizza, Hoopla reveals Saturday’scollege winners. He’ll begin with MACJC State Championship game atScooba.

    Gulf Coast at East Mississippi: Unbeaten Lions stay that way with ahigh-scoring win over the Bulldogs. East Miss. 39-21.

    Central Florida at Southern Miss: No. 25-ranked Golden Eagles mustmaintain a high level of intensity in the C-USA test. Southern Miss33-17.

    Louisiana Tech at Ole Miss: Can the inspired Rebels win ahomecoming game for Houston Nutt? Ole Miss 29-20.

    Alabama at Mississippi State: Can the Crimson Tide recover from itsovertime loss to LSU when they invade Starkville? Yup. Alabama29-14.

    In other games involving Magnolia State teams, Jackson State overAlabama A&M 21-10, Arkansas-Pine Bluff over Valley State 28-7,Prairie View over Alcorn State 24-14, Delta State over West Georgia38-19, Belhaven over Georgetown College 23-9 andBirmingham-Southern over Millsaps 13-6 and McMurry over MississippiCollege 23-10.

    To contact sports editor Tom Goetz by