1st Team Free Safety: Nickoe Whitley
One of the areas Mississippi State is not particularly deep at in the program’s history is safety. When researching through a list of potential players, Nickoe Whitley was the only one that really stood out to me.
Whitley’s 13 interceptions still rank among high in school history. Whitley was also know for laying the lumber. He recorded 150 tackles in his four years as a Bulldog.
2nd Team Free Safety: Frank Dowsing
I honestly don’t know if Frank Dowsing was a free safety or a strong safety. Players in the defensive backfield get listed simply as DBs. Since I need someone for the second team, I’m making him a Free Safety.
Had Frank Dowsing been able to play as a freshman in 1969, his name might be further up the record books for career interceptions. As it is, he stands tied for 8th with 10 INTs playing from 1970-72.
Mississippi State’s first black football players joined the team in 1969 and Dowsing was one of them. He went on to have a stellar career as a cornerback, earning all-SEC honors twice, and being named an All-American in 1972.
It should also be noted that Dowsing was the first African American to be named Mr. MSU by the student body.
1st Team Strong Safety: Stan Black
I have somewhat the same issue with Stan Black as I did with Frank Dowsing. I know he played safety, but I don’t know if it was free safety or strong safety. So for the purposes of this team, I’m moving him to strong safety.
Stan Black played from 1973-76 as a safety. He was named All-SEC twice, and an All-American in 1976.
You won’t find Black’s name littered across the MSU record books, but he was a solid as they come. He was once of the centerpieces for two 9-win teams (1974, 76).
2nd Team Strong Safety: Pig Prather
Pig Prather had all kinds of issues off the field. Those issues ultimately left him without an NFL Career. But this list isn’t about bone headed decisions away from football. It’s about how the players produced on the field.
Prather was one of the hardest hitting players in Mississippi State history. His style of play might be penalized heavily in today’s game. Prather was a DOG Safety under Joe Lee Dunn, and it was a cross between a linebacker and a safety, but was closer aligned to safety, so he goes here at Strong Safety.
The number Prather put up don’t jump out at you. He only had four interceptions in his three years playing defensive back. What did jump out at you were the vicious hits he liad on running backs emerging out of the backfield.