By Logan Lowery
STARKVILLE – Fifth-year senior safety Nickoe Whitley helped Mississippi State reach the postseason forcing pivotal late fumbles in both the Arkansas and Ole Miss victories.
Whitley stripped Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace of the football on the final play of the game in overtime to secure the Bulldogs bowl berth.
It would be the final play the Jackson native makes in maroon and white. Whitley underwent surgery on Monday to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament and will miss the bowl game.
“About Week 3 of the season, the doctors came to us and said he was going to have knee surgery,” said MSU coach Dan Mullen in an interview on Head-to-Head radio. “He met with me and I told him he could have surgery now and hopefully be healed by the (NFL) combine or you can suck it up and play through it the rest of the year. It’s not going to get a lot worse and you’re still going to have to have the surgery afterwards.
“He looked and said he wasn’t giving up on the team. He was going to play it out and have the surgery right after the last regular season game. To make that commitment and sacrifice to the team and then to make the plays that he makes is unbelievable.”
College career done
The 6-foot-1, 205-pounder appeared in 46 games during his Bulldog career making 42 starts. Whitley made 229 tackles, eight stops for loss, 1.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and 19 pass breakups.
Whitley leads the country with 15 career interceptions finishing one shy of Walt Harris and Johnthan Banks school record. He is expected to graduate with a master’s degree in May.