STARKVILLE, Miss. – With nine days until its 2013 season opener, the Mississippi State football team placed five players on the 2013 Southeastern Conference Coaches’ Preseason All-SEC Team, the league announced Thursday.
Leading the way for the Maroon and White was preseason All-American left guard Gabe Jackson, who was named to the first team offense. A member of Rotary Lombardi Award and Outland Trophy watch lists, the Liberty, Miss., native is widely considered the number one offensive guard prospect in the 2014 NFL Draft. This past week, the 335-pounder was named the sixth-best senior in the country by NFL.com Senior Analyst Gil Brandt. Jackson ranks second in the country in career active starts with 39, trailing only Georgia’s Aaron Murray.
Representing the MSU offense on the second team was senior running back LaDarius Perkins, who was also named to the All-SEC third team as an all-purpose player. The 5-10, 195-pounder finished second in the SEC last season in all-purpose yards per game (125.8) and became the ninth player in MSU history to rush for 1,000 yards in a single season (1,024). A member of the Maxwell Award, Doak Walker Award and Hornung Award watch list this fall, the Greenville, Miss., native was also one of only two running backs in the country (Adam Muema, San Diego State) to rush for a touchdown in each of his first seven games last fall.
McKinney, who earlier this summer was named to the Bednarik Award and Butkus Award watch lists, earned freshman All-America honors in 2012 after tying for second in the FBS in tackles by a freshman. The 6-5, 235-pounder finished sixth in the SEC last year in tackles per game, and has since been named the No. 8 “Craziest Athlete in College Football” by CBSSports.com.
Whitley made the coaches’ team after starting all 13 games last season, tallying 88 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions and one fumble forced. The Jackson, Miss., native is tied for second in the country among returning FBS players with 10 career interceptions. Earlier this summer, the safety was named to the watch list for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, presented annually to the national defensive player of the year.
Rounding out the Bulldogs was Autry, who in his last four games of 2012 registered four tackles for loss, two sacks, two fumbles forced, three quarterback hurries, one interception and a pass breakup. Starting 10 games and playing in all 13 a year ago, Autry totaled 42 tackles and 4.0 sacks.
All five All-SEC players and their teammates begin the 2013 season Saturday, Aug. 31 in Houston, Texas, at Reliant Stadium against Oklahoma State. The Texas Kickoff Classic is set for a 2:30 p.m. kickoff and will be televised live nationally on either ABC or ESPN2. For more information on the Maroon and White, follow the program on Twitter at @HailStateFBall, like team on Facebook at Facebook.com/HailStateFootball and join the squad on Instagram at Instagram.com/HailStateFB.