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Bulldog Players Making Initial Nominations for Post-Season Awards

The preseason is bearing down on college football. So, it’s time for preseason awards lists to be released and nominees for all the awards and trophies presented. Bulldog players are again showing up on the watch lists.

Or on multiple watch lists, as are a couple of Mississippi State seniors. Today it was running back/return specialist Brandon Holloway drawing double-duty, nominated for both the Doak Walker Award and the Wuerffel Trophy.

The Walker Award goes to the nation’s top running back. But it also requires good academic standing and that nominees be on schedule to graduate within a year of their classmates. Walker directors will name ten semifinalists on November 16 and three finalists on November 22, with the winner picked on the 28th.

Holloway took the starting job for the last eight games, finishing with second-most rushing yards on the squad behind All-SEC quarterback Dak Prescott and one touchdown. He scored five times receiving though and returned the first kickoff of 2015 for a 100-yard touchdown. He and Stanford star Chistian McCaffery were the only returning FBS-level players who in ’15 tallied 400 or more rushing yards, 300 or more receiving yards, and 500 kickoff return yards.

The Wuerffel Trophy is about premier play on the field but more to recognize a student-athlete’s work away from the field and even campus. It goes to the player the All Sports Association recognizes most for community service and academic achievement.

Related to this, Holloway is a nominee for the AllState AFCA Good Works Team, given to a football player committed to service and enriching lives of others as well as academic stature.

The defensive Dog nominated for a pair of post-season honors is not a surprise. Senior linebacker Richie Brown has made the initial watch list for both the Butkus Award and the Nagurski Trophy.

The Butkus, selected by the Football Writers Association, goes to the country’s leading linebacker, and Brown makes the initial 51-man cut after leading State last season in tackles at 109, in his first season as the starting middle linebacker. He was the first State stopper to top triple-digit tackles since Cam Lawrence in 2012. He was fifth in SEC tackles last season despite sharing the field and stats with outside linebacker Beniquez Brown (99).

Brown is a three-time SEC honor roll member already, a 2016 graduate of Mississippi State and now working on his masters in business.

Last week Brown was named to the Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch list, which expands to include all defensive players and begins with 81 names already. Selected by the FWAA, five finalists will be named on November 17 and the winner presented December 5 in Charlotte.

Back on the offensive side, senior Fred Ross is nominated for the Biletnikoff Award given to the nation’s leading pass-catcher whether a true receiver, back, or combination. It is presented by the Tallahassee Quarterback club with the winner announced December 8.

Ross is Mississippi State’s top returning offensive player from 2015. A first-team All-SEC receiver, he is only the second Bulldog wideout to top 1,000 yards in a season at 1,007. He led the league in catches-per-game, was first in SEC catches total and second in the nation.

Also on offense, center Jamaal Clayborn has made the 61-member watch list for the Rimington Trophy. This award for the nation’s top center is somewhat unique in that it also uses results of three all-America teams (Camp, Sporting News, FWA) to help select the winner. Finalists are announced December 5 and the winner on January 14.

Clayborn started all regular-season games in 2015, his first year as starter after a couple of years in backup duty at guard and center. He missed the Belk Bowl with an ankle injury but was back to strength in time for spring football. He took over at center last year from three-year Rimington nominee Dillon Day.

There are more watch lists yet to come, though Mississippi State is unlikely to have a nominee for the Davey O’Brien Award since that is aimed towards quarterbacks.

There are no Bulldogs who made watch lists for other awards, most of them position-specific and in spots State is either reloading or not well-known. That includes the Mackey (tight end), Groza (kicker), and Guy (punter).

It’s also not surprising that there isn’t a 2016 Bulldog on the radar for either the Maxwell (top offensive player overall), Bednarik (defensive player of the year), or Thorpe (defensive back). Though, it is disappointing no Bulldog lineman is nominated for the Outland Trophy.

The Southeastern Conference will announce its preseason all-conference teams today, as well as predicted order of finish both overall and by Divisions. Mississippi State’s best hopes for All-SEC would seem to be linebacker Brown and receiver Ross, both of whom attended Media Days this week.

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