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Mississippi State’s Gabe Jackson wins C Spire Conerly Trophy as best college football player in Magnolia State during 2013

All American offensive lineman Gabe Jackson, a four-year starter at Mississippi State who helped lead the Bulldogs to their fourth Egg Bowl victory in five years over in-state arch rival Ole Miss, won the C Spire Conerly Trophy on Tuesday night as the Magnolia State’s top college football player in 2013.

The fifth-year senior and Liberty, Miss. native also won the first Ken Hull Trophy as the state’s best offensive lineman. Jackson is coming off a spectacular season this year as he was named the SEC’s Lineman of the Week on three separate occasions. He did not allow a sack all season and is expected to be among the first offensive linemen taken in the 2014 NFL draft.

Jackson received the trophy during a special awards program Tuesday night in Jackson at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum from master of ceremonies Rick Cleveland, MSHOF executive director, and Jim Richmond, vice president of Corporate Communications for C Spire Wireless, title sponsor of the award since 1998.

He edged out four other finalists, including Ole Miss junior quarterback Bo Wallace, the 2012 C Spire Conerly winner, along with Alcorn State running back Arnold Walker, Millsaps College running back Mike Barthelemy and Jackson State quarterback Clayton Moore vying for the coveted award, which is named after College Football Hall of Famer Charlie Conerly, who also starred for the New York Giants.

Jackson becomes the first offensive lineman to win the top award in the Conerly Trophy’s 18-year history. He joins four other Mississippi State Bulldogs as former winners of the coveted award, including running backs J.J. Johnson (1998), Jerious Norwood (2005) and Anthony Dixon (2009) and linebacker Chris White (2010).

A panel of 50 print, television and radio news media members across the state selected the finalists and the winner from among 10 nominees from each of Mississippi’s football-playing four year colleges. For the first time, fan voting counted for 10 percent of the overall vote. Barthelemy led the fan voting, followed by Jackson and Walker. The Kent Hull Trophy winner was selected by a panel of experts, including former college coaches, players and pro scouts.

Jackson praised the Bulldogs coaching staff and credited his teammates for helping him become one of the dominant offensive tackles in college football. “It’s such an honor to be named the top college football player in the state,” Jackson said. “But I really have to give credit to my teammates and coaches. It’s all about team, and everyone works together to make sure we get better each day. That’s what makes this so special.”

C Spire has sponsored the outstanding player award program for all major college sports in Mississippi since 1998. “We’re very pleased with the caliber of players selected as nominees and finalists for the C Spire Conerly Trophy,” Richmond said. “This has been a very strong year in terms of individual and overall performance and leadership among all of the schools who submitted nominees for the award. Our winner is not only a great football player, but an outstanding young man with good character, a strong record of community involvement and a terrific work ethic.”

Now in its 18th year, the Conerly Trophy presented by C Spire is named after the late Charlie Conerly – the only football inductee in the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame who was an All-American at a Mississippi university, an NFL rookie of the year and NFL All-Pro member and quarterbacked a team to a world championship.

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