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Simmons, Sweat secure preseason watch list honors

Junior defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons and senior defensive end Montez Sweat were both selected to the Nagurski Trophy Watch List, making MSU one of just six Southeastern Conference programs to boast two student-athletes as a preseason candidate for the award. Simmons was also added to the Outland Trophy Watch List on Tuesday.

Posted: Jul 24, 2018 11:21 PM
Updated: Jul 25, 2018 12:26 AM

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Honors continue to roll in for Mississippi State as the Football Writers Association of American released watch lists for the Bronko Nagurski and the Outland Trophy on Tuesday with both trophies featuring a Bulldog as preseason candidates.

Junior defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons and senior defensive end Montez Sweat were both selected to the Nagurski Trophy Watch List, making MSU one of just six Southeastern Conference programs to boast two student-athletes as a preseason candidate for the award. Simmons was also added to the Outland Trophy Watch List on Tuesday.

Simmons and Sweat helped forge a Bulldog defense that ranked 10th nationally in total defense last season, issuing only 306.3 yards per game. It was best total defensive mark at MSU since 1999. Earlier this month, the duo was also named to the Bednarik Award Watch List and selected to the preseason All-SEC First Team.

Despite being double-teamed for most of the 2017 season, Simmons recorded 60 tackles and was tabbed a first-team All-SEC honoree. The Macon, Miss., native ranked 11th in the conference with 12.0 tackles for loss, which includes a career-best five sacks. Defensively, he forced and recovered two fumbles while tallying three blocks on special teams, which tied SMU's Justin Lawler for the national lead.

Simmons also scored twice last season with two touchdowns at Louisiana Tech, becoming the first MSU defensive player since Johnathan Banks in 2009 to score twice in a game. Simmons was also a two-time SEC Defensive Player of the Week honoree in 2017.

Sweat collected a league-best 10.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss in his debut season en route to a first-team All-SEC selection. The 10.5 sacks ranked seventh in MSU single-season annals as he became the first Bulldog to lead the league in sacks since Willie Evans in 2005. That total also tied for eighth nationally last season. His tackle for loss total tied for fifth in Bulldog single-season history.

A three-time SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week recipient in 2017, Sweat recorded at least one tackle for loss in 10 of MSU's 13 games. The Stone Mountain, Ga., native ranked sixth overall on the squad in tackles in 2017 with 46.

The official presentation of the Outland Trophy, which is presented to the nation's top interior lineman, will be made at the Werner Enterprises Outland Trophy Awards Dinner produced by the Greater Omaha Sports Committee on Jan. 9, 2019. Up to seven semifinalists will be named on Nov. 14 and three finalists for the award will be announced on Nov. 19. The FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club will announce five finalists for the 2018 Bronko Nagurski Trophy on Nov. 14. The 2018 Bronko Nagurski Award, which honors the national defensive player of the year, will be awarded on Monday, Dec. 3.

2018 Mississippi State Preseason Honors

Nick Fitzgerald, Sr., QB
Third-Team All-SEC (Media)
Maxwell Award Watch List
Davey O'Brien Award Watch List

Elgton Jenkins, Sr., OL
Rimington Trophy Fall Watch List

Mark McLaurin, Sr., S
Third-Team All-SEC (Media)

Jeffery Simmons, Jr., DT
First-Team All-SEC (Media, Phil Steele)
Athlon Sports Preseason All-American (Second Team)
Bednarik Award Watch List
Outland Trophy Watch List
Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List

Montez Sweat, Sr., DE
First-Team All-SEC (Media, Phil Steele)
Athlon Sports Preseason All-American (Third Team)
Bednarik Award Watch List
Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List

Aeris Williams, Sr., RB
Third-Team All-SEC (Media)
Doak Walker Award Watch List

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