Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace, fresh off of leading his Rebels to a 41-24 Egg Bowl victory over Mississippi State, won the C Spire Conerly Trophy award on Tuesday night as the Magnolia state’s top college football player in 2012.
Wallace, who has led the Rebels to a 6-6 record this year and their first bowl berth since 2009, passed for 2,843 yards with 19 touchdowns, ran for another 363 yards and eight touchdowns and scored a touchdown on a 25-yard pass reception while logging a cumulative 144.20 quarterback rating this year, one of the best in the SEC and among the top 40 in the nation.
Wallace received the trophy during a special awards program Tuesday night in Jackson at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum from master of ceremonies Rick Cleveland, MSHOF executive director, and Jim Richmond, vice president of Corporate Communications for C Spire Wireless, title sponsor of the award since 1998.
He edged out four other finalists – Mississippi State defensive back Johnathan Banks, Southern Miss defensive lineman Jamie Collins, Jackson State wide receiver Rico Richardson and Delta State offensive tackle Kendall Hunter. A panel of more than 50 media members across the state selected the finalists and the winner from among 10 nominees from each of Mississippi’s football-playing four year colleges.
Wallace, a sophomore from Pulaski, Tenn., joins four other Ole Miss Rebels as former winners of the coveted award – quarterbacks Stewart Patridge (1997) and Eli Manning (2001 and 2003), running back Deuce McAllister (1999) and linebacker Patrick Willis (2006).
The six Conerly Trophy victories by a Rebel are more than any other school. Mississippi State and Southern Miss have each won the award four times.
Wallace started every game for Ole Miss this year, and his 3,206 total offensive yards make him only the second player in school history to eclipse 3,000 yards in a season behind Eli Manning, who reached that total twice during his Ole Miss career. Wallace’s eight rushing touchdowns are the most by a Rebel QB since Eli’s father, Archie, in 1969.
Wallace praised Rebels head coach Hugh Freeze, the coaching staff and his teammates for helping him lead the school back to respectability in the SEC.
“Coach Freeze and our coaching staff spent a lot of time and effort getting everyone on our team to buy in to their long-term vision and plan for our program this year,” Wallace said. “It paid off as we have one of the most exciting teams in college football with tremendous momentum to build on this year’s success on into the future.”
“We’re very pleased with the caliber of players selected as nominees and finalists for the Conerly Trophy,” Richmond said. “This has been a very strong year in terms of individual and overall performance and leadership among all of the schools who submitted nominees for the award. Our winner is not only a great football player, but an outstanding young man with good character, a strong record of community involvement and a terrific work ethic.”
Now in its 17th year, the Conerly Trophy presented by C Spire Wireless is named after the late Charlie Conerly – the only football inductee in the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame who was an All-American at a Mississippi university, an NFL rookie of the year and NFL All-Pro member and quarterbacked a team to a world championship.