STARKVILLE, Miss. – With nine days until its 2014 season opener, the Mississippi State football team placed five players on the 2014 Southeastern Conference Coaches’ Preseason All-SEC Team, the league announced Thursday.
Leading the way for the Maroon and White was preseason All-America sophomore defensive lineman Chris Jones, who was named to the second-team defense. Redshirt junior Benardrick McKinney was also named to the second team, while senior defensive back Jamerson Love was selected to the third team. Redshirt junior quarterback Dak Prescott and senior Jameon Lewis earned third-team accolades on offense.
Jones is coming off a freshman All-America campaign where he played in all 13 games with three starts. An Associated Press All-SEC Honorable Mention selection last fall, the 6-5, 305-pound behemoth posted a team-best 10 quarterback hurries and tied for the team lead in tackles for loss with 7.0. This summer, the Houston, Miss., native has earned preseason All-America honors from Sports Illustrated, ESPN, CBS Sports and Athlon Sports, as well as a spot on the Lombardi Award watch list for the nation’s best collegiate lineman.
McKinney, rated the top underclass inside linebacker prospect in the 2015 NFL Draft by Mel Kiper Jr., picked up the honor following a sophomore campaign which saw him lead State with 71 tackles, including a team-tying high seven behind the line of scrimmage. Named the best linebacker in the SEC by ESPN.com, McKinney’s stock skyrocketed this summer after being placed on watch lists for the Bednarik Award, Nagurski Trophy, Butkus Award and Lombardi Award.
Love rounded out MSU’s defensive All-SEC representation after tallying 27 tackles and three interceptions last fall, including two off then-reigning Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel. Thanks to his 4.29 timed 40-yard dash, Love was listed as a top-10 corner in the league this past July by ESPN.com.
Prescott nabbed third-team honors after a 2013 season which saw him tally 2,769 yards of total offense and 25 total touchdowns in just seven starts. The team leader is one of only four returning quarterbacks in the country to have rushed for 800-plus yards and passed for 1,900-plus yards a season ago (Taysom Hill, BYU; Nick Marshall, Auburn; Braxton Miller, Ohio State). After being a counselor at the Manning Passing Academy this summer, Prescott has been added to the watch list for the Maxwell Award, Davey O’Brien Award and Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award.
Lewis earned the selection after hauling in 923 receiving yards as a junior in 2013, the most of any returning pass catcher in the conference. The Biletnikoff Award watch list receiver was recently listed as the second-most versatile player in college football by NFL.com
The five All-SEC players and their teammates begin the 2014 season against Southern Miss next Saturday, Aug. 30, inside the new-and-improved Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field in Starkville, Miss. The game is set for a 6:30 p.m. kickoff and will be televised nationally in more than 90 million homes on the SEC Network. 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.