Brent Rooker (Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page)

Junior First Baseman Adds League Top Player Honor; Gridley Earns First-Team, Mangum Second-Team and Defense

The SEC has been handing out a Player of the Year recognition since 1993. It only took 25 years for a Diamond Dog to win it.

Mississippi State’s Brent Rooker rounded-out a day’s worth of honors with word he is SEC Player of the Year for 2017. Barely an hour earlier Rooker was handed the Boo Ferriss Trophy as the top college ballplayer in the state of Mississippi. He became the sixth Diamond Dog to receive the Ferriss Trophy.

But he is the first to be SEC Player of the Year. In fact he is just the second player from either of Mississippi’s league schools to earn the honor, and in 2004 Ole Miss’ Stephen Head had to share it.

The SEC did divide up its OTY awards in 2003 to make Pitcher of the Year a separate vote. Bulldog Chris Stratton won this in 2012.

Rooker finished the regular season leading the SEC in batting average, home runs, RBI, doubles, slugging average and total bases. He did lead the league much of the season in stolen bases as well. In the final weekend of the regular schedule Rooker set the Mississippi State record with his 28th double.

The SEC’s and NCAA’s statistical ‘races’ still have over a month to go as all post-season numbers count towards totals and averages. So it won’t be known for a while if Rooker will be the first SEC triple crown hitter since 1984, when State’s Rafael Palmeiro last pulled off the trifecta.

The SEC also announced its all-conference teams. Rooker of course was first-team along with shortstop Ryan Gridley. Jake Mangum was both second-team outfielder and All-Defense team.

Former Mississippi State assistant Nick Mingione won SEC Coach of the Year in his first season at Kentucky. The Wildcats also produced the SEC’s Pitcher of the Year with Sean Hjelle.

Texas A&M’s Braden Shewmake is Freshman of the Year.

With state and conference honors settled, now the national awards and trophies are to be announced in coming weeks. Rooker is obviously in line for all-America selections from the various organizations and media outlets.

He is also a leading candidate for the highest prizes, including the Golden Spikes given to the top college player in the country. That is to be announced at the end of June, following the College World Series.

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