A Night of Awards | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

A Night of Awards

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Bryan Flynn

Last week, the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame awarded the Conerly Trophy and the Kent Hull award. In case you missed it, Mississippi State guard Gabe Jackson got both awards.

I started thinking: What if Mississippi gave out college football awards for our state similar to the ones given nationally?

Hear me out (and someone get in touch with Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame Executive Director Rick Cleveland to get this ball rolling):

Keep the Conerly as the award for the best football player in the entire state. It would equal the Heisman for the rest of the country. The best offensive lineman in the state could get the Frank "Bruiser" Kinard award—Kinard was the first All-American from Ole Miss and is a 
football legend.

Instead of the best offensive lineman getting the Kent Hull award, make it the best guard or center in the state, and add the Jackie Slater award for the best offensive tackle, named for the Jackson State legend and NFL hall of famer.

The best running back in the state would, of course, receive the Walter Payton award, and the best receiver would earn the Jerry Rice award, named after the best player in Mississippi Valley State history. Without question, these two men were the best at their positions the state has ever produced.

Quarterback produces a bit of a logjam, but I'm a solutions-oriented person. The top quarterback in the state should get the Brett Favre award, named after the Southern Miss quarterback, while the best senior in the state would receive the prestigious Manning award, named after Archie and Eli.

Sometimes players spurn scholarship offers from larger schools so they can play the position they know were born to play. These players would receive the Steve McNair award. He turned down offers to play other positions at bigger schools so he could play quarterback at Alcorn State.

The best tight end in the state should receive the Jimmy Giles award. Giles is one of several players from Mississippi who should be in the NFL Hall of Fame.

How much fun would it be arguing over the Bacon-Jones award for best defensive lineman each season? This award is named after Coy Bacon (JSU) and Deacon Jones (Mississippi Valley State), both of whom played in Mississippi and for the Rams famed Fearsome Foursome.

The Robert "Dr. Doom" Brazile award would go to the best linebacker. Brazile was a standout at Jackson State before the Houston Oilers drafted him, and is one of the more underrated players in pro football history, in my opinion.

Another no-brainer is the Lem Barney award, which goes to the best defensive back. Barney played at Jackson State before becoming a pro football hall of famer with the Detroit Lions.

Finally, the best special teams player should get the Ray Guy award, and the best kicker given the Jerrel "Thunderfoot" Wilson award. Both awards are named after great Southern Miss kickers.

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