STARKVILLE, Miss. (WTVA/MSU Athletics) – Juniors Montez Sweat and Nick Fitzgerald’s impressive play on the field has been rewarded once again this season as honors roll in for the dynamic pair.
Leading Mississippi State’s defense in the Bulldogs’ fourth-quarter comeback at Arkansas, Sweat earned Southeastern Conference Defensive Lineman of the Week for the third time this season as announced by the league on Monday.
Sweat is the first Bulldog to win the honor three times in the same season since former Bulldog and current Washington Redskin Preston Smith opened the 2014 season by winning the award over three straight weeks.
The Stone Mountain, Ga., native turned in a dominating performance, collecting a career-high 2.5 sacks in MSU’s 28-21 win at Arkansas. He finished the game with four overall tackles. His 2.5 sacks were the most by a Bulldog since Chris White had 2.5 versus Florida on Oct. 16, 2010. It upped his season total to 9.0 sacks, which is tied for ninth in MSU single-season history and tied for the most by a Bulldog in the last 12 years, matching Smith’s 9.0 sacks over the 2014 season. MSU limited Arkansas to 221 yards to total offense, the fewest allowed by State versus an SEC opponent this season. The Razorbacks managed only 86 yards rushing under Sweat’s defensive unit.
Fitzgerald was also honored on Monday as MSU’s nominee for the 2017 C Spire Conerly Trophy, which is presented annually to the most outstanding college football player in the state of Mississippi.
The 10 nominees represent the football-playing universities and colleges across the state and have been chosen by their athletic departments. The award will be presented on Tuesday, Nov. 28.
The winner of the annual C Spire Conerly Trophy is selected by a statewide media panel vote with a fan vote conducted by C Spire, which accounts for 10 percent of the overall vote. To vote via social media or text message, visit www.csopavoting,com beginning at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 21 until Sunday, Nov. 26 at 5 p.m.
Fitzgerald is one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation. Through the air, the Richmond Hill, Ga., native has gone 158-of-281 for 1,770 yards and 15 touchdowns, while adding 968 yards rushing on 159 carries with 14 scores. He is just one of two FBS quarterbacks to rush for over 900 yards and throw for over 1,700 yards this season. He has scored 29 total touchdowns, which accounts for over 72 percent of Mississippi State’s scoring. Fitzgerald has racked up six 100-yard rushing games as a junior to bring his career total to an SEC quarterback record of 14. For his career, Fitzgerald has rushed for 2,470 yards, which is the fourth-most by an SEC quarterback.
Past Mississippi State winners of the award include J.J. Johnson (1998), Jerious Norwood (2005), Anthony Dixon (2009), Chris White (2010), Gabe Jackson (2013) and Dak Prescott (2014, 2015).
This year the C Spire Conerly Trophy will be presented at the Hilton-Jackson in Jackson, Miss., on Tuesday, Nov. 28. A reception begins at 5:30 p.m. with the program scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are available online at www.msfame.com or by calling the Hall of Fame office at 601.982.8264.
For more information on the Bulldogs, follow the MSU football team on Twitter, like them on Facebook and join them on Instagram by searching for "HailStateFB." All-access coverage is also available on SnapChat by searching for "HailStateSnap.
2017 SEC Weekly Honors
SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week (10/23)
SEC Co-Offensive Player of the Week (10/30)
SEC Offensive Player of the Week (9/18)
SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week (9/11, 9/18)
SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week (10/23, 10/30, 11/20)
SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week (9/18)
2017 Conerly Trophy Finalists
De’Lance Turner (Alcorn State)
Hunter McEachern (Belhaven)
Chris Robinson (Delta State)
Shawn Bishop (Jackson State)
Jacob Kendall (Millsaps College)
Chris Manning (Mississippi College)
Nick Fitzgerald (Mississippi State)
Mark Pegues (Mississippi Valley State)
A.J. Brown (Ole Miss)
Ito Smith (Southern Miss)