There will not be a repeat winner of the Cellular South Conerly Trophy, but there might be a historic winner.
Among the finalists announced today for the award that honors Mississippi’s top college football player are an offensive lineman (tackle Michael Oher of Ole Miss) and a player from a Division III school (Millsaps quarterback Juan Joseph).
The other finalist is Ole Miss defensive tackle Peria Jerry. Not among the finalists, chosen by a panel of 57 media representatives from around the state, was 2007 winner Damion Fletcher, the Southern Miss running back who has been hampered by a hamstring injury this season but has still cracked the 1,000-yard mark for the year and during the season became the school’s career rushing leader while only a junior.
Oher is the first offensive lineman and Joseph the first player from a Division III school picked as finalists in the 13-year history of the trophy.
The winner will be announced at a ceremony on Dec. 2 in Clarksdale, the home town of the late Charlie Conerly, the former Ole Miss quarterback for whom the trophy is named.
All three finalists are seniors.
Joseph has thrown for 3,130 yards and 31 touchdowns with just six interceptions. He has run for 390 yards and four more TDs, leading Millsaps to a 10-0 record and into the second round of the NCAA Division III playoffs.
Jerry and Oher have been instrumental in Ole Miss’ turnaround season, helping the Rebels build a 7-4 record heading into Friday’s Egg Bowl battle against Mississippi State.
Jerry is second in the SEC in tackles for loss with 13 and has four sacks.
Oher, one of three finalists for the Outland Trophy as college football’s top interior lineman, has started 45 consecutive games for the Rebels. He’s twice been named SEC offensive lineman of the week this season. Ole Miss ranks third in the SEC in total offense and has allowed just 13 sacks in 11 games.
Voters in the preliminary round were charged with selecting three players. The same voters will choose one name from the finalists.
Nineteen players received at least one vote. In addition to the finalists, others receiving votes, in alphabetical order, included:
Wide receiver DeAndre Brown of USM; quarterback Austin Davis of USM; running back Trevar Deed of Delta State; quarterback Garrett DeWitt of Delta State; running back Anthony Dixon of Mississippi State; linebacker Dominic Douglas of Mississippi State; USM’s Fletcher; defensive end Greg Hardy of Ole Miss; linebacker Lardester Hicks-Green of Delta State; wide receiver Dexter McCluster of Ole Miss; linebacker Gerald McRath of Southern Miss; safety Derek Pegues of Mississippi State; receiver Chad Schroeder of Delta State; quarterback Jevan Snead of Ole Miss; linebacker Marcellus Speaks of Jackson State; and wide receiver Mike Wallace of Ole Miss.
For information on tickets to the awards ceremony, call 800-280-3263 or go to msfame.com. The trophy is administered by the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame & Museum.