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Leo Lewis named freshman All-American

After leading all Southeastern Conference freshmen in tackles, Mississippi State linebacker Leo Lewis was named to the 2016 Football Writers Association of America Freshman All-America Team, the organization announced prior to Monday’s College Football Playoff National Championship.

The SEC and Big Ten each placed six players on the 34-member team, while the Pac-12 and ACC had five players from their respective conferences. The 12-person panel of nationally-prominent writers represented each of the FBS conferences along with independents in selecting the team.

Lewis, a native of Brookhaven, is the first Bulldog to ever be named to the FWAA Freshman All-America Team, which was established in 2001. Lewis accumulated 79 tackles in his debut season — 30 better than the next closest freshman in the SEC. He ranked 13th among all players in the league in tackles and added 4.5 tackles for loss.

Lewis’ tackle total was the highest by an MSU freshman since Benardrick McKinney had 102 in 2012. McKinney is now the 11th-leading tackler in the NFL and a starter for the Houston Texans.

Lewis started all 13 games this season and recorded two double-digit tackle contests, including a season-best 12 at BYU.