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Ole Miss’ A.J. Brown wins Conerly Trophy as Mississippi’s best college football player

A.J. Brown has been the Southeastern Conference’s best receiver all season. Now the Ole Miss standout has the distinction of Mississippi’s best, too.

Brown on Tuesday won the C Spire Conerly Trophy, which is awarded annually to the state’s most outstanding college football player. He’s the second straight Ole Miss player to win the trophy after former tight end and first-round draft pick Evan Engram claimed it in 2016.

The award was voted on by a select panel of sports media as well as fans. Other finalists for the trophy were Alcorn State running back De’Lance Turner, Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald and Southern Miss running back Ito Smith.

Just a sophomore, Brown turned in the best statistical season for a wideout in Ole Miss history, finishing with a single-season school record 1,252 yards and 11 touchdowns, both of which are tops in the SEC. The 6-foot-1, 225-pounder had six 100-yard receiving games — only the second Ole Miss player to ever record that many in a season — including a six-catch, 167-yard performance in the Rebels’ 31-28 win over Mississippi State to end the season in his return to Starkville.

Brown set the tone for his breakout season with a single-game school record 233 yards on just eight catches in Ole Miss’ season-opening win over South Alabama on Sept. 2. Lining up predominantly in the slot as the season wore on in an attempt to find mismatches against bigger linebackers and smaller safeties, Brown more than tripled his yardage total from his freshman season (412).

The trophy was first awarded in 1996. Ole Miss has had the most winners (8) followed by Mississippi State (7), Southern Miss (4), Delta State (2) and Millsaps (1). Former Ole Miss All-American and New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (2001 and 2003) and former Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott (2014-15), now with the Dallas Cowboys, are the trophy’s only two-time winners.

Davis Potter covers Ole Miss sports for the Oxford Eagle.
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Davis Potter, The Oxford Eagle
Davis Potter covers Ole Miss sports for the Oxford Eagle.

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