Evan Engram holds the grand prize from Tuesday night’s C Spire Conerly Trophy banquet. Credit: Rick Cleveland

CLARKSDALE — Ole Miss tight end Evan Engram, who led the nation’s tight ends in pass receiving in 2016, won the C Spire Conerly Trophy, which was presented Tuesday night at the Clarksdale Country Club.

Engram, a senior from Powder Springs, Ga., caught 65 passes for 926 yards and eight touchdowns this season. He had one of his best games against Alabama, the nation’s No. 1 defense, catching nine passes for 138 yards and a touchdown.

Engram accepted the award, saying: “I thank God for allowing me to play this great sport. I want to thank my family, my coaches and my teammates. This is a great honor for me and my university.”

Each of the 10 four-year, football-playing schools in Mississippi nominated a player for the 21st Conerly Trophy. The field was narrowed to four finalists during the ceremony: Engram, Mississippi State wide receiver Fred Ross, Southern Miss running back Ito Smith, and Jackson State defensive end Javancy Jones.

The winner was decided by voting of a state-wide panel of sports media, which accounted for 90 percent of the final tally, and fan voting conducted by C Spire, which accounted for 10 percent. JSU’s Jones won the fan voting.

Said Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze of Engram: “Evan is one of the finest young men I have ever coached. He proved all the recruiting services wrong. He came to our football camp, with no scholarship offers, when he was in high school and told us he was coming to earn a scholarship offer. He dominated the camp. It’s been an honor to coach Evan.”

Said Engram, “I had no idea I would win because there were so many great nominees. Everybody here could have won it. I was really hoping to win for my team and my school.”

Mississippi State’s Justin Senior, a senior tackle from Montreal, accepted the Kent Hull Trophy as the outstanding offensive lineman in Mississippi. He is the fourth Hull Trophy winner and the previous three winners all play in the NFL.

“I just hope I can live up to the legacies of Kent Hull and the people who have won this award before me,” Senior said.

Senior’s parents and an aunt flew from Canada to attend the event.

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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.