The 2016 C Spire Conerly Trophy will be presented Nov. 29 in Clarksdale, hometown of the trophy’s namesake, College Football Hall of Famer Charlie Conerly.

The award goes annually to the most outstanding college football player in Mississippi. This will be the 21st presentation of the trophy.

Each of the 10 football-playing four-year schools in Mississippi nominate a player for the award. Thus far, four schools have named their representative:

Austin Bray, Mississippi Valley State quarterback: He has completed 129 of 239 passes for 1,462 yards and eight touchdowns. He also accounted for four rushing touchdowns.

Fred Ross, Mississippi State wide receiver: He is the 2016 Southeastern Conference leader in touchdown receptions with nine and is third overall in catches with 57 and fifth in receiving yardage with 664. Ross has set four MSU career receiving records this season, including catches (184), consecutive games with a catch (32), 100-yard receiving games (9) and receiving yards (2,275). His 184 career catches rank him 16th all-time in the SEC. He leads all SEC receivers in 10-yard-plus plays from scrimmage this season with 33.

Javancy Jones, Jackson State defensive end: He is JSU’s C Spire Conerly nominee for the second straight year. Jones is a versatile defensive end/linebacker hybrid who leads JSU with 17.5 tackles for a loss and four quarterback sacks for 26 yards in losses. JSU also uses him as a tight end and he has caught two passes, one for a touchdown.

Marcel Newson, Mississippi College wide receiver and kick returner: He is MC’s nominee for the second year after transferring from Northwest Community College. He led the Gulf South Conference and ranks fifth nationally in all-purpose yardage with 180.6 yards per game. Led the GSC and ranked 27th nationally in receiving yards per game (94.8). Ranks third in GSC in kickoff return average (27.3) and punt return average (15.5).

Coaches have until Monday, Nov. 21 to name their finalists.

Last year, Dak Prescott became the first player to win the Conerly Trophy in consecutive years.

Past winners also include Eli Manning, Jerious Norwood, Austin Davis and Patrick Willis.

The 21st annual C Spire Conerly Trophy presentation will be held at the Clarksdale Country Club. A 5:30 p.m. reception will be followed by the banquet and trophy presentation at 6:30 p.m. For ticket information, contact the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum at 1-800-280-FAME (3263), 601-982-8264 or

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Rick Cleveland, a native of Hattiesburg and resident of Jackson, has been Mississippi Today’s sports columnist since 2016. A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi with a bachelor’s in journalism, Rick has worked for the Monroe (La.) News Star World, Jackson Daily News and Clarion Ledger. He was sports editor of Hattiesburg American, executive director of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. His work as a syndicated columnist and celebrated sports writer has appeared in numerous magazines, periodicals and newspapers.
Rick has been recognized 13 times as Mississippi Sports Writer of the Year, and is recipient of multiple awards and honors for his reporting and writing.