JACKSON, Miss. -- One of the most dominant defensive lineman in college football, Mississippi State junior defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons was named the winner of the 23rd annual C Spire Conerly Trophy, the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum announced Tuesday night.
A native of Macon, Mississippi, Simmons is the seventh MSU football student-athlete to win the award, which debuted in 1996 and is presented to the best college football player in the state of Mississippi. He is the first Bulldog to earn the honor since two-time honoree Dak Prescott (2014, 2015).
Simmons earned the honor after totaling 59 tackles, including 14.5 for loss and one sack, four pass breakups and one forced fumble during the regular season. Earlier this season, he was named a semifinalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award for the Outstanding Defensive Player of the Year by the Maxwell Football Club for the second straight year. His 59 total tackles are the second-most in the SEC among defensive linemen, while his 14.5 tackles for loss lead MSU and are tied for fourth in the conference among all defenders.
According to Pro Football Focus, Simmons racked up 27 total pressures and ended the regular season with the No. 4 overall grade (91.4) and the No. 4 run-defense grade (93.1) among FBS interior defenders.
In the 2018 Egg Bowl against Ole Miss, Simmons dominated with four tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack, one forced fumble, one pass breakup and one quarterback hurry. He was named to the Pro Football Focus National Team of the Week and earned SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week honors for his efforts. His two tackles for loss against the Rebels put him at 30 career tackles for loss, which ranks seventh in MSU history.
A preseason All-American, Simmons is one of the anchors of arguably the best defensive unit in the nation. Directed by Broyles Award finalist, defensive coordinator/safeties coach Bob Shoop, the MSU defense finished the 2018 regular season ranked No. 1 in the FBS in scoring defense (12.0), fewest touchdowns allowed (12), yards per play allowed (4.14), pass efficiency defense (97.26), red-zone touchdown percentage (25.0) and fewest 50+ yard plays allowed (0). MSU led the SEC in 23 different statistical categories and is the only defense in the nation to rank inside the top 10 in the FBS in scoring defense (1st – 12.0), rushing defense (10th – 104.25), passing defense (6th – 164.2) and total defense (3rd – 268.4).
Simmons is a two-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll with over a 3.0 cumulative GPA. He is MSU’s team leader in community service along with teammate Gerri Green.
Simmons was the top vote getter and winner of the fan voting segment of the 2018 C Spire Conerly Trophy. He received 13,894 votes from fans, which counts for 10 percent of the award. A panel of statewide sports media representatives decided the remaining 90 percent of the award.
Mississippi State Conerly Trophy Winners
2018 – Jeffery Simmons, Defensive Tackle
2015 – Dak Prescott, Quraterback
2014 – Dak Prescott, Quarterback
2013 – Gabe Jackson, Offensive Lineman
2010 – Chris White, Linebacker
2009 – Anthony Dixon, Running Back
2005 – Jerious Norwood, Running Back
1998 – J.J. Johnson, Running Back