JACKSON, Miss., Nov. 28, 2017 — Ole Miss wide receiver A.J. Brown, one of the nation's top receivers this season, won the C Spire Conerly Trophy Tuesday night as the Magnolia state's top college football player in 2017. Brown, a sophomore from Starkville, Mississippi, led the SEC and the Rebels in receiving this year with 1,252 yards. He edged out three other finalists for the award, including Mississippi State dual-threat quarterback Nick Fitzgerald, Southern Miss running back Ito Smith and Alcorn State running back De'Lance Turner.
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 Archie Manning. 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 Mississippi Valley State defensive back Mark Pegues, Mississippi College defensive back Chris Manning, Millsaps College linebacker Jacob Kendall, Belhaven University quarterback Hunter McEachern, Jackson State linebacker Shawn Bishop and Delta State running back Chris Robinson.
Mississippi State senior offensive lineman Martinas Rankin received the 5th annual Kent Hull Trophy as Mississippi's top college offensive lineman in 2017. The award is named for the late Kent Hull, a Mississippi State and Buffalo Bills pro football standout.
Brown also won the fan voting segment with over 3,479 votes, which counted for 10 percent of the award. Fitzgerald finished second with 3,207 votes and Turner was third with 1,822 votes. College football fans cast over 10,300 votes via social media and text messaging for their favorite players during the week-long fan voting competition. 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 last year's winner, Evan Engram. Prescott and Manning are the only two-time winners in the award's 22 year history.
Brown, a semifinalist for the 2017 Biletnikoff Award, broke the Ole Miss single-season record for receiving yards and tied the school record for touchdowns during the season with 11. He became only the second Rebel in school history to record six 100-yard receiving games this season and finished the season as the seventh leading receiver in the nation.
“I'm very grateful for the opportunity to play football and for the love and support from my teammates, coaches and family,” Brown said. “This award truly is an honor and it means so much more knowing about the legendary players who received this award in the past.”
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, a state-of-the-art digital experience for its customers and team members, 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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