Bulldogs Fitzgerald, Rankin voted second team All-SEC

MSU's Nick Fitzgerald (7), Martinas Rankin (55)
Staff Writer

It’s another year and another season in which Mississippi State football has been projected to finish near the bottom in the Southeastern Conference Western Division.
However, the Bulldogs will have a pair of All-SEC team members to help them try and exceed expectations.
The league announced Friday that press members at SEC Media Days this week picked MSU to end the upcoming season at sixth in the West. Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald and offensive lineman Martinas Rankin were each chosen as All-SEC second team selections.
Fitzgerald’s honor comes as no surprise. The big, athletic signal caller broke nine school records a season ago and led the SEC in total offense with 3,798 yards. He broke the SEC record for a quarterback with 7.1 yards per rush last season.
“I wasn’t surprised,” MSU head coach Dan Mullen said of Fitzgerald’s success last year. “Even though I know coming out of high school, he wasn’t a very highly-rated player, didn’t have all of the accolades that a lot of other recruited players had, but I knew he had the skill set. I got to see it every day at practice that not everybody else got to see. I really wasn’t shocked with some of the success he had last year.”
Rankin is likely to be a high pick in the National Football League Draft next spring. Many projections have Rankin going as highly as in the first round.
Rankin arrived at MSU as the nation’s top-rated junior college offensive lineman in 2015, then, after redshirting, played in all 13 games for the Bulldogs last season with 10 starts.
“He has worked his tail off in the program, and he has flexibility (to play at different spots on the offensive line)," Mullen said of Rankin.
If Fitzgerald and Rankin can have big years, it will go a long way towards helping MSU finish higher than their predicted sixth-place standing. The Bulldogs were chosen to finish higher than only instate rival Ole Miss in the Western Division.
Alabama was picked to win the West, followed by Auburn, LSU, Arkansas and Texas A&M.
Georgia was chosen to win the East, followed by Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina, Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Missouri.
Alabama was predicted to win the 2017 SEC Championship.