The best football player in the state of Mississippi is Gabe Jackson, without question.
There are a lot of Ole Miss fans who are ticked off that Bo Wallace lost the Conerly Trophy for basically having a terrible Egg Bowl, but they really shouldn’t complain because he won it in 2012 for basically having an outstanding Egg Bowl that season. It kind of brings everything into balance. While people may argue about who should have won the Conerly Trophy, it is going to be very apparent in April of 2014 who the most talented player from the state is because, unless something changes in workouts or at the combine, Gabe Jackson is going to be the first player selected in the NFL draft from our state.
There are certainly issues with which the player who receives the Conerly Trophy is selected. I really don’t like the new rules where each school selects a candidate, and those are the only players that the media gets to choose from. It doesn’t take away from the fact that they still chose the right guy. I think it is a credit to the people who vote on this that they were able to pick Jackson despite the fact he is an offensive lineman, which is not always easy to measure how much of an impact they have.
The other award that Jackson received was the Ken Hull Trophy, an award given out this year to honor the state’s best offensive lineman. It’s only fitting that Jackson won this award as it is named after one of the best offensive linemen to play for Mississippi State who recently passed away. Jackson has had quite a year.
So why did Jackson earn these awards? The best way to measure it is through what others did. It has always been clear since the Auburn game that this offense runs better when a quarterback is in the backfield that is a threat with both his arm and his feet. Prescott made a living this year taking quarterback draws and running up the middle behind his best offensive lineman. Also, the most productive running back we had this year was Josh Robinson. He averaged 1.5 more yards a carry than Laddarius Perkins. Robinson, much like Prescott, preferred to run up the middle behind the blocking of Jackson. When the offense needed to get a couple of yards, you could just about guarantee Jackson was going to be involved. He was as sure a thing as there was this year fir the Bulldogs.
Jackson had a great year and a great career. He will be the most difficult player to replace in the 2014 season. I can’t wait to see what he does at the next level!
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