BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WTVA/MSU Athletics) – Mississippi State placed a total of eight Bulldogs, including two first-team selections, on the 2018 Preseason Coaches All-Southeastern Conference Football Teams, the league announced on Thursday.
MSU joined Georgia, Alabama and Auburn as the only programs in the league to produce at least eight selections on this year’s preseason squads.
Junior defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons and senior defensive end Montez Sweat were State’s lone first-team selections as MSU was the only school to produce two first-team defensive line honorees. Simmons, already named a preseason All-American four times this summer, ranked 11th in the SEC with 12.0 tackles for loss last season, while Sweat returns for his senior season after leading the conference in sacks (10.5) and tackles for loss (15.5) last year.
MSU’s lone second-team honoree was senior safety Mark McLaurin. McLaurin tied for the SEC lead in interceptions (6) in 2017 and tied the single-season school-record for picks most recently acquired by Corey Broomfield in 2009.
Rounding out the preseason selections for Mississippi State were junior offensive lineman Darryl Wiliams, senior offensive lineman Deion Calhoun, senior running back Aeris Williams, junior linebacker Leo Lewis and senior cornerback Jamal Peters, who all garnered third-team mentions.
Calhoun and Darryl Williams helped anchor MSU’s offense line that paved the way for a Bulldog offense that rack up 5,442 total yards last season as State averaged 418.5 yards per game. One of the elite running backs in the SEC, Aeris Williams became the first running back since Josh Robinson to rush for 1,000 yards as he racked up 1,107 yards last season.
Appearing in 12 games as a junior, Peters closed the season with 23 tackles, one interception and the first fumble recovery of his career. The cornerback returned a 90-yard pick for a touchdown at No. 24 Texas A&M to mark the longest pick return at MSU in almost a decade. Lewis made 12 starts at linebacker and collected 46 tackles. Lewis turned in multi-tackle performances in all eight of MSU’s conference games last season.
The Bulldogs will open the Joe Moorhead era inside Davis Wade Stadium on Sept. 1, against Stephen F. Austin on ESPNU at 6:30 p.m. CT.