All 10 of the athletic departments at Mississippi's four-year colleges and universities each nominated one football player for the 2011 Conerly Trophy. More than 40 statewide media members (myself not included) will vote on the 10 nominees to select the winner. This will be the 16th time the award has been handed out since 1996, and the winner will be announced Nov. 29 at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.
In the JFP College football preview last August, I wrote about some pre-season players to watch. I totally whiffed on all but two of the nominees. Feel free to go back and read that article to see how badly I blew it.
Three of the new 10 Conerly nominees are, in my opinion, head and shoulders above the other seven. Here are those three, in alphabetical order by school:
Delta State University
Micah Davis, quarterback, senior, Wesson
Davis has led Delta State to a 9-2 record this season and a No. 1 ranking in the Division II top 25 poll. For the 2011 season, Davis has thrown for 2,993 yards while completing 253 passes on 413 attempts.
The single caller for the Statesmen has thrown 19 touchdown passes with 16 interceptions. While completing 61.3 percent of his passes, Davis averages 272.1 yards per game. On the ground, Davis is fifth on the team for rushing with 180 yards and 11 touchdowns. Davis has even punted the ball five times this year with three punts being downed inside the 20 yard line.
Davis is a two-year starter at Delta State after starting for Copiah-Lincoln Community College for two years. He also owns several passing records for the Statesmen.
The Statesmen will win the Gulf South Conference and earn a berth into the Division II playoffs. Delta State will try to return to the championship game for the second season in a row.
If Davis wins the trophy, he will be the third player from Delta State to win and the second Statesmen quarterback to win.
Jackson State University
Casey Therriault, quarterback, senior, Wyoming, Mich.
Therriault has made the most of the second chance JSU has given him. He has helped Jackson State to a 8-2 record in a season the Tigers couldn't complete in the SWAC championship. This season Therriault climbed up the JSU record books. He has thrown for 3,252 yards on 239 completions in 408 attempts. Therriault completes 58.9 percent of his passes and averages 325.2 yards per game.
Affectionately known as the "White Tiger" by JSU fans, Therriault has thrown 23 touchdowns with 13 interceptions. He has also rushed 125 yards and nine touchdowns.
Jackson State is ineligible for a post season due to poor academics. Therriault's senior season will end in the Capital City Classic against Alcorn State.
If Therriault wins the Conerly Trophy, he will be the first player from Jackson State to win. Therriault was a finalist for the 2010 Conerly Trophy.
University of Southern Mississippi
Austin Davis, quarterback, senior, Meridian
This season has seen Austin Davis break every passing record at Southern Miss. Davis has gained national attention for his record-breaking performances because of who's records he broke. When a quarterback breaks every one of Brett Favre's records, it is going to make news, so it's easy to see why Davis is getting the interest.
The Golden Eagle quarterback has led USM to an 9-1 record and a ranking in just about every top-25 football poll. Davis has Southern Miss on pace to play in their first Conference USA title game since 2006.
Davis is a four-year starter at quarterback for USM, and his final season for the Golden Eagles has been one of his best. Davis has thrown for 2,511 yards on 217 completions off of 298 attempts. This season, he has thrown for 20 touchdowns and just 8 interceptions. He is completing 62.7 percent of his passes and averaging 238.6 yards per game. In the rushing attack, Davis has rushed for 251.1 yards with two touchdowns.
Davis is also one of 10 finalists for the Lowe's Senior Class Award, ARA Sportsmanship Award and earned the Manning Award Player of the Week Oct. 13. He was a finalist for the 2010 Conerly.
He would be the fourth player from Southern Miss to win the Conerly Award. Davis would be just the second offensive player from USM to win and the first USM quarterback to win.
Weigh in on my selections now, and check back after Nov. 29.