By CHRIS TALBOTT
The Associated Press
JACKSON — Anthony Dixon capped his college career with another score.
The Mississippi State running back won the Conerly Trophy given to the state’s top college football player Tuesday night in a ceremony at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum. He beat out nine other nominees from Mississippi’s football-playing colleges, including 2008 winner Damion Fletcher of Southern Miss.
“I used to watch it on TV, being from around here, so I’ve seen dudes before me win this,” the Terry native said. “I’d see this on TV and I’d be like, ‘One day I want to be this person. Mama, one day I want to be in this spotlight.'”
Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen thinks the Conerly should be the first of many trophies Dixon receives in the next few weeks after a brilliant, record-breaking senior season that left him with every significant Bulldogs rushing mark and as the school’s leading scorer.
Mullen even mentioned the Heisman Trophy, comparing Dixon’s season with that of Alabama running back Mark Ingram after Dixon capped his career by breaking the school’s single-season rushing record in a 41-27 upset of Mississippi in the Egg Bowl. He finished with 1,391 yards in just 11 games.
“Here’s a guy playing the toughest schedule in the country and he led the Southeastern Conference in rushing,” Mullen said. “Now a lot of people promote Mark Ingram for (the Heisman), but he’s got more rushing yards per game and just as many touchdowns in one less game than (Ingram) does. So if you look at it in those terms, it’s kind of a shame that he isn’t mentioned in those award circles.”
The 6-foot-1, 235-pound senior was sixth in the nation with an average of 126.5 yards rushing per game. He finished with 3,994 yards rushing and holds the records for career and single-season yards rushing, attempts, total and rushing touchdowns, career 100-yard games, points and all-purpose yards. And his 133 yards against the Rebels pushed him to eight 100-yard games this season, another record.
“I guess dreams come true,” Dixon said. “This is like my whole senior season has been. All the things I’d think I want to be when I was a kid are all coming true.”
Organziers expanded the field for the trophy from three to 10 this year to include every college that plays football. Ole Miss running back Dexter McCluster and Mississippi College quarterback Adam Shaffer joined Dixon as semifinalists.
The other nominees were Fletcher, Alcorn State quarterback Tim Buckley, Belhaven wide receiver Cordario Calvin, Delta State wide receiver Trevar Deed, Jackson State defensive back Malcolm Palmer, Milsaps quarterback Chris Graves and Mississippi Valley State defensive lineman Jared Green.
The trophy is named for the Ole Miss and New York Giants great Charlie Conerly and sponsored by Cellular South. The winner is picked by a panel of 53 sports writers.