All-SEC Dogs: Jackson, Whitley, Jones recognized for their play
Mississippi State offensive lineman Gabe Jackson was announced as a first-team All-Southeastern Conference selection by The Associated Press on Monday. (Photo by Rogelio V. Solis, AP)
It has been a senior season filled with many accolades for Mississippi Stateâ€™s Gabe Jackson.
The offensive lineman earned another honor on Monday.
The Liberty native was selected to The Associated Press All-Southeastern Conference first team. This is coming on the heels of Jackson winning the C Spire Conerly Trophy, given to Mississippiâ€™s top collegiate football player, and the Kent Hull Trophy, awarded to the stateâ€™s best offensive lineman.
It is the third AP All-SEC selection for Jackson in his career. He is the first Bulldog to garner the recognition three times since Derek Pegues, who was a three-time All-SEC pick from 2006-08.
â€śOur whole team has worked hard all year and to receive an award like this is special,â€ť Jackson said in a school release.
Senior defensive back Nickoe Whitley and true freshman defensive lineman Chris Jones were honorable mention selections.
Jackson was a big reason the Bulldog offense has averaged 426.2 yards per game this season, which is on pace to set the school record.
Whitley, who had knee surgery last week and is done for the season, totaled 55 tackles and had a team-high five interceptions. The Jackson native forced two fumbles in the last two games of the season to help MSU become bowl eligible.
Jones became a force in his first season with the Bulldogs. The Houston native has played everywhere on the defensive line this year.
He finished the regular season with 31 total tackles, seven tackles for loss, three sacks and a team-high 10 quarterback hurries.
Auburnâ€™s Gus Malzahn was the Coach of the Year, Auburn running back Tre Mason was the Offensive Player of the Year, Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam was selected as the Defensive Player of the Year and Arkansas running back Alex Collins was the Freshman of the Year.
It didnâ€™t take long for Bulldog fans to buy out tickets to the AutoZone Liberty Bowl.
A school spokesperson confirmed that MSUâ€™s 10,000 ticket allotment was sold out before lunch time on Monday. An extra 6,000 tickets were being sent to the Mississippi State ticket office to be sold.
â€śWe almost sold out the allotment during the pre-sale period,â€ť MSU senior associate athletics director for ticket operations Mike Richey said. â€śThe fans are excited about all the options on the front end, but I think when the Liberty Bowl was announced, I think that got everybody excited.â€ť
MSU (6-6) will play Conference USA champion Rice (10-3) on Dec. 31 at 3 p.m. in Memphis, Tenn.
The Bulldogs went to the 2007 Liberty Bowl. A bowl-record 63,816 fans watched MSU beat the Knights of Central Florida 10-3. School administrators are hoping a new record is set at this yearâ€™s bowl.
This will be a school-record fourth-straight bowl game for State. That has not derailed ticket sales for Bulldog fans. They are eager as they were when they went to the 2011 Gator Bowl in Dan Mullenâ€™s second season as the head coach at the school.
â€śWhat we expect after four in a row is the purchasing habits change a little bit,â€ť Richey said. â€śThe number of people who come straight to the ticket office or jump on early is quite not the same as it was several years back.
â€śFrom the beginning, we always knew that we would send a large number of people to the bowl games in particular the ones closest to here. Weâ€™ve been very, very pleased with the response here at the ticket office.â€ť
MSU has sold out Davis Wade Stadium a school-record 30-straight times dating back to the 2009 Florida game, in which Mullen faced his former team.
"It's an unbelievable honor for them to select you as a school," Mullen said Sunday night at an official acceptance press conference. "The one thing we can do is show everybody we're a team worthy of being selected to great bowl games by bringing home crowds with us for the opportunity to go get our seventh win."
Cowbells will be allowed, but the same rules that are in effect with SEC games will be followed.
Bowl games are another chance for players to play, but there are other benefits.
Most every bowl game gives the student-athletes gifts, and a list of each bowlâ€™s gifts were released on Monday.
SportsBusiness Journal released the lists on its website.
The Liberty Bowl will give the Bulldogs and Owls a pair of Sol Republic HD Tracks headphones, a Bulova watch, a pair of Nike Sunglasses, Nike athletic shoes and sandals and a Kevin Durant backpack.
MSU is sponsored by Adidas.
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