November 30, 2010 10:22:00 AM
STARKVILLE -- Chris White''s breakout senior season has him in pole position to capture the Cellular South Conerly Trophy, which will be awarded tonight at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame & Museum.
The Mississippi State middle linebacker turned in one of the best statistical seasons in the Southeastern Conference, totaling 105 tackles, six sacks, and 15-and-a-half tackles for a loss.
White, a former junior college standout at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, has played two positions in his two seasons with the Bulldogs. He started at weakside linebacker last season and moved to the middle this season to replace current Philadelphia Eagle Jamar Chaney.
One of 10 finalists for the Conerly Trophy, which is awarded annually to the top college football player in Mississippi, White is one of three seniors and seven quarterbacks up for the award. He joins University of Mississippi quarterback Jeremiah Masoli and Southern Miss quarterback Austin Davis as the state''s Football Bowl Subdivision finalists.
Unlike Davis and Masoli, White''s team is headed to an upper-tier bowl game and has been nationally ranked for the past seven weeks.
The Bulldogs'' success and the defense''s noticeable improvement can be linked to White''s all-league play. The Bulldogs head into their bowl game ranked 19th in the nation against the run and 27th in scoring defense. The Bulldogs'' 87 tackles for a loss is 13th in the NCAA.
Despite starting 12 games as a junior, White entered the season in teammate K.J. Wright''s shadow. The latter was touted as an NFL prospect and the best linebacker on the team. While Wright has enjoyed a standout season at his new weakside position, White has emerged as an NFL prospect and one of the more versatile linebackers in the country.
White was responsible for aligning the defense under first-year coordinator Manny Diaz.
"He wasn''t on everybody''s watch list," MSU coach Dan Mullen said Saturday. "He really was the MVP of our defense this season. Chris has put up huge numbers. I think he''s the most deserving of the award."
Under the voting format, each four-year university has a finalist for the trophy. The setup is unfortunate for MSU, which could have had two candidates for the trophy. Left tackle Derek Sherrod has started three straight seasons for the Bulldogs and is a projected first-round NFL draft pick. He helped pave the way for MSU''s SEC rushing title in 2009 and has anchored MSU''s dominant offensive line to more than 200 rushing yards per game this season.
"The hard thing is both of them have had such great years," Mullen said. "Both of them deserve All-American honors."
Bumphis to miss bowl game
Sophomore wide receiver Chad Bumphis has a broken collarbone and will miss the Bulldogs'' bowl game, a team spokesman confirmed Monday.
Bumphis hurt his collarbone Saturday in the second quarter of the Bulldogs'' 31-23 win against Ole Miss. Bumphis fell on his shoulder after making a 44-yard catch.
An X-ray Monday revealed the extent of the injury.
Bumphis leads the team in receptions (44), receiving yards (634), and receiving touchdowns (five). Bumphis also had 131 rushing yards.
Bumphis is the third MSU receiver -- senior Leon Berry and junior Marcus Green. Berry and Green combined to play just eight games.
Bumphis'' injury won''t require surgery, and he should be ready for the start of spring practice.
Berry, who had surgery to repair a broken foot following MSU''s win against Houston, hoped to return for MSU''s bowl game, but he is listed as doubtful.
Bulldogs earn league honors
Following MSU''s second straight Egg Bowl win, a pair of Bulldogs earned SEC Player of the Week laurels Monday.
Sherrod was named SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week following the Bulldogs'' 497-yard performance against Ole Miss. He has won the award four times this season.
Running back LaDarius Perkins was named SEC Co-Freshman of the Week after compiling 319 all-purpose yards -- second-highest in MSU history -- against the Rebels. He caught three passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns, rushed for 98 yards on 13 carries, and had 65 kick return and 16 punt return yards.
1. All-Area Large Schools Boys Basketball: Cox turns West Point into winners HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
4. Starkville Academy softball ready for season opener HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS