By Brad Locke | NEMS Daily Journal
ATLANTA – Fletcher Cox’s stellar junior season was recognized by the Associated Press, which on Monday named the Mississippi State defensive tackle to its All-SEC first team.
Cox was one of five Bulldogs selected. Senior tailback Vick Ballard, junior cornerback Johnthan Banks and sophomore offensive lineman Gabe Jackson made second team; offensive lineman Quentin Saulsberry was an honorable mention.
Cox has made 49 tackles, and his 12.5 tackles-for-loss rank ninth in the SEC. He also has 4.0 sacks, a fumble recovery, a forced fumble and a blocked field goal. Cox earned the SEC’s defensive lineman of the week four times this season, sharing it once with Georgia’s Garrison Smith.
Ballard has rushed for 1,009 yards, while Banks has five interceptions and 14 passes defended, which is tied for first in the league. Jackson has started 25 consecutive games for MSU at left guard, while Saulsberry has made 49 straight starts at four different positions. He began the year at center but is now the right guard.
Ole Miss had only one selection, punter Tyler Campbell, who was honorable mention. He averaged 43.6 yards per punt, tied for fourth in the SEC.
Alabama running back Trent Richardson is a unanimous choice for offensive player of the year, while LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu has been named the top defensive player.
LSU’s Les Miles was tabbed as coach of the year after he guided the top-ranked Tigers (13-0) to a spot in the national championship game against their SEC West rival, No. 2 Alabama.
Georgia running back Isaiah Crowell was named freshman of the year despite injuries and disciplinary issues.
LSU and Alabama dominated the list, with both powerhouses placing five players on the first team. SEC East champ Georgia had four first-teamers.
The coaches’ All-SEC team will be announced today.