STARKVILLE, Miss. – After earning a 17-10 overtime victory against rival Ole Miss on Thanksgiving night, Mississippi State had two student-athletes earn SEC Player of the Week honors Monday.
Senior free safety Nickoe Whitley was tabbed as the SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Week while freshman defensive tackle Chris Jones earned SEC Co-Freshman of the Week honors. The accolades were career firsts for the pair.
Whitley becomes the initial Bulldog to be selected as the league’s defensive player of the week since Chris White was a two-time pick in 2010 (Oct. 16 and Oct. 30). MSU had not had a rookie earn freshman of the week honors since Benardrick McKinney on Oct. 8, 2012. This week also marks the first time since Oct. 30, 2010, that Mississippi State had two players selected for league weekly honors.
In the Egg Bowl, Whitley provided the game-winning forced fumble, knocking the ball away from Bo Wallace as he approached the end zone for the potential contest-tying scoring in overtime. In the opening quarter, Whitley intercepted a Wallace pass to end the Rebels’ first drive of the contest.
Whitley currently leads all active FBS players with 15 career interceptions and is second on the MSU single-season chart with five picks this year. The Jackson, Miss., native finished his final home game with five tackles, including three solo stops, and a quarterback hurry.
Jones was also instrumental in the victory, tallying five tackles, two for lost yardage, and a quarterback hurry. Jones finished his rookie SEC campaign with eight quarterback hurries, the most by an MSU player during league action in the Dan Mullen era.
A Houston, Miss., product, Jones booked a personal-best 2.0 tackles for lost yardage against the Rebels and registered his third sack of the year, all in SEC action. Jones tops the team with 7.0 TFL this season.
Whitley, Jones and the Bulldogs earned the program’s fourth-straight bowl appearance, a first in MSU history, with the victory over the Rebels. The squad will learn its postseason destination on Sunday, Dec. 8.