STARKVILLE, Miss. (WTVA/MSU Athletics) - Coming off the heels of Associated Press All-Southeastern Conference laurels, Mississippi State trio of offensive lineman Martinas Rankin, defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons and defensive end Montez Sweat were named to the 2017 All-SEC Coaches First Team, the league announced Tuesday.
It's the first time since the 2014 season that three Bulldogs have earned first-team honors and the first time in program history that MSU has had two first-team selections at defensive lineman. The duo of Simmons and Sweat at the first defensive lineman to be honor with first-team selections since former Bulldog and current Washington Redskin Preston Smith in 2014.
Simmons, a two-time SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week honoree, dominated a MSU defense that saw a complete overhaul and closed the regular season ranking in the top 20 in four categories nationally. The Bulldog defense allowed just 302.0 yards per game to rank 10th nationally and is the best mark by MSU since 1999.
Despite being double-team over the majority of the season, Simmons could not be contained and tallied a total of 57 tackles. Over his sophomore campaign, the Macon, Miss., native totaled 11.0 tackles for loss, including a career-best 4.5 sacks, to rank 10th in the league. Simmons has forced and recovered two fumbles over the season and has blocked three kicks on special teams, tying SMU's Justin Lawler for the national lead. He tallied two touchdowns on the road at Louisiana Tech this season to become the first MSU defensive player to score twice in a game since Johnathan Banks against Florida in 2009.
In his debut season as a Bulldog, Sweat led the conference and ranked ninth nationally with 9.5 sacks. He is the first Bulldog to lead the SEC in sacks since Willie Evans in 2005. Sweat's 9.5 sacks rank ninth in MSU single-season history and are the most by a Bulldog since Evans totaled 15.0 over the 2005 season.
The Stone Mountain, Ga., native earned three SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week laurels, becoming the first Bulldog to do so since Smith in 2014. The junior totaled 12.5 tackles for loss, ranking fourth in the conference, while his 63 yards for loss ranks fifth in the league. Sweat closed the regular season with 44 total tackles and added a fumble recovery.
Rankin became the first offensive lineman to earn first-team accolades at offensive line since former Bulldog and current Oakland Raider Gabe Jackson in 2013. Rankin served as a team captain over the 2017 season and anchored an offensive line that allowed MSU to rush for 2,995 yards, which ranks third in the league. The Bulldogs average 249.6 yards per game, ranking 14th nationally, third in the SEC and is the best rushing yards per game since MSU's school record of 280.5 was set in 1980.
The Mendenhall, Miss., native has guided a State offensive line that has allowed just 11 sacks over the 2017 season, which is the fewest by any Power 5 team this year and the sixth-fewest in the FBS. The 11 sacks are the fewest given up in MSU school history.
The trio of Bulldogs return to action on Saturday, Dec. 30 as MSU battle Louisville in the TaxSlayer Bowl. The 11 a.m. CT kickoff at Everbank Field in Jacksonville, Fla., will be televised by ESPN.
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2017 All-SEC First Team
TE – Hayden Hurst, South Carolina
OL – Isaiah Wynn, Georgia
OL – Braden Smith, Auburn
OL – Martinas Rankin, Mississippi State
OL – Jonah Williams, Alabama
C – Will Clapp, LSU
WR – A.J. Brown, Ole Miss
WR – Calvin Ridley, Alabama
QB – Drew Lock, Missouri
RB – Kerryon Johnson, Auburn
RB – Nick Chubb, Georgia
AP – Christian Kirk, Texas A&M
DL – Jeff Holland, Auburn
DL – Montez Sweat, Mississippi State
DL – Raekwon Davis, Alabama
DL – Jeffery Simmons, Mississippi State
LB – Roquan Smith, Georgia
LB – Devin White, LSU
LB – Skai Moore, South Carolina
DB – Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
DB – Duke Dawson, Florida
DB – Armani Watts, Texas A&M
DB – Carlton Davis, Auburn
PK – Daniel Carlson, Auburn
P – JK Scott, Alabama
RS – Christian Kirk, Texas A&M
2017 All-SEC Second Team
OL – Trey Smith, Tennessee
OL – Garrett Brumfield, LSU
OL – Martez Ivey, Florida
OL – Greg Little, Ole Miss
C – Bradley Bozeman, Alabama
WR – J'Mon Moore, Missouri
WR – Christian Kirk, Texas A&M
QB – Jarrett Stidham, Auburn
RB – Benny Snell, Kentucky
RB – Derrius Guice, LSU
AP – A.J. Brown, Ole Miss
DL – Da'Ron Payne, Alabama
DL – Marcell Frazier, Missouri
DL – Da'Shawn Hand, Alabama
DL – Marquis Haynes, Ole Miss
LB – Rashaan Evans, Alabama
LB – Lorenzo Carter, Georgia
LB – Tre' Williams, Auburn
DB – Ronnie Harrison, Alabama
DB – Donte Jackson, LSU
DB – Greedy Williams, LSU
DB – Deandre Baker, Georgia
PK – Eddy Pineiro, Florida
P – Johnny Townsend, Florida
RS – DJ Chark, LSU
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