Croom Says Four All-SEC Dogs Deserving

Anthony Dixon's first response to news he and three Bulldog teammates had been voted All-Southeastern Conference by coaches was happy surprise. His second? "I guess I've got to go in there and congratulate my big boys now!" the running back grinned, standing outside the Shira Complex. "I've got to thank them!"

In particular the one of his ‘big boys' who joined Dixon as a pair of Mississippi State offensive players to receive sufficient votes from league coaches for membership on the pre-season squads. Junior back Dixon was a member of the second-team offense, while senior guard Anthony Strauder made the third offensive group. The SEC coaches had a pair of Bulldog defenders honored as senior safety Derek Pegues made first-team and senior middle linebacker Jamar Chaney the second squad.

Upon hearing the news Coach Sylvester Croom—who was not allowed to vote for his own players—was satisfied with who his peers had picked for this 2008 pre-season squad. "Those guys have earned it, there's no question about that. It's a credit to them and their teammates and their coaches for them being named to the pre-season team.

"But the key thing is how they play this fall. If they play as good as they can this fall I hope their status will continue to rise."

Strauder spoke along the same lines when informed of his pre-season status by Joe Galbraith of the Media Relations staff. "It's a great privilege to be named All-SEC," said Strauder prior to a Monday afternoon team meeting. "I'm really happy about it. But my goal is to make post-season All-SEC and to help my team to the SEC Championship this year."

Dixon heard the word from reporters following a grueling outdoor conditioning session, when he'd run four sets each of five different sprint distances on what strength coach Ben Pollard called the hottest workout day of the summer to-date. Finding out he now had the title of preseason All-SEC put a little spring back in his step.

"Oh, man, it's a great honor! I guess the hard work is showing up now. I'm going to work hard some more and try to move up a little bit more." Of course there is only rung left on the all-league ladder to move up, and pushing aside SEC stars like Georgia's Knowshon Moreno and Tennessee's Arian Foster for first-team status won't be easy. Still Dixon knows a big year can change many things.

Certainly he and Bulldog veterans found this out last fall. Team success has even put such things as individual honors in an entirely different perspective for Dixon. "Finally we're winning, and it feels even better. Usually we have a couple of players on there but with us winning it feels so much better now."

If any other evidence is required about how Bulldog attitudes have changed, Dixon was more openly thrilled to hear that Strauder had made all-conference than about his own recognition. "Oh, man, we're going to have to have a party now!"

Friday, the SEC will release the All-Conference teams and league finish forecasts made by press representatives as the week's Media Days. Mississippi State and Florida share the first session of the first day, Wednesday afternoon at the Wynfrey Hotel in Birmingham. Croom is taking Chaney to represent the Bulldog defense and quarterback Wesley Carroll for the offense.

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