Ole Miss’ Matt Corral, one of the nation’s leading dual-purpose quarterbacks and one of only two quarterbacks in Division 1 college football to throw for at least 15 touchdowns and run for at least 10 TDs, won the 2021 C Spire Conerly Trophy Tuesday night as the Magnolia state’s top college football player.
Corral, a redshirt junior from Ventura, California, was the third leading passer in the SEC with 3,334 yards, completing 68.3 percent of his passes for 20 touchdowns and only four interceptions, including 26 of 34 passes for 234 yards in a thrilling 31-21 victory for the Rebels against Mississippi State in the 94th annual Battle for the Golden Egg rivalry game.
The Ole Miss quarterback topped two other finalists for the award, including Mississippi State quarterback Will Rogers and Jackson State quarterback Shedeur Sanders. Corral also is the 12th leading rusher in the SEC with 597 yards and 11 touchdowns and led the Rebels to their first 10-win regular season in school history.
The trophy was presented during a sold-out Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame (MSHOF) awards banquet, which also featured special remarks from CBS NFL football analyst Charles Davis. The award is named after Charlie Conerly, a Mississippi Sports Hall of Famer, college All-American, an NFL rookie of the year and NFL All-Pro who quarterbacked the New York Giants to a world championship.
The other seven award nominees from Mississippi’s 10 public universities and colleges were Delta State linebacker Marvin Terry, Alcorn State defensive back Juwan Taylor, Belhaven running back Brad Foley, Millsaps wide receiver Moïse Tezzo, Mississippi College linebacker Jonathan Jones, Mississippi Valley State running back Caleb Johnson and Southern Miss defensive back Malik Shorts.
Mississippi State left offensive tackle and redshirt sophomore Charles Cross won the 8th annual Entergy Kent Hull Trophy as Mississippi’s top college offensive lineman in 2021. Cross is the fifth Bulldog to receive the award, which is named for the late Kent Hull, a Mississippi State standout and Buffalo Bills pro football star. All seven previous award winners play or have played in the NFL.
Corral is semi-finalist or finalist for virtually every major award in college football this year, including the Maxwell Award, the Walter Camp Player of the Year and the Davey O’Brien Award. His name has also prominently been mentioned as a dark horse candidate for the Heisman Trophy. He is one of five finalists for the 2021 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award.
Previous winners of the C Spire Conerly Trophy include former and current NFL players such as Dak Prescott, Eli Manning, Anthony Dixon, Patrick Willis, Deuce McAllister, Jerious Norwood, Michael Boley, Evan Engram, A. J. Brown, Jeffrey Simmons and last season’s winner, Elijah Moore. Prescott and Manning are the only two-time winners in the award’s 26-year history.
C Spire has sponsored the outstanding player awards program for football since 1998. The trophy is awarded to the nominee selected as the top player by news media covering college football in the state. “We’re very pleased with the caliber of players selected as nominees and finalists for the C Spire Conerly Trophy this year,” said Jim Richmond, vice president of Marketing for C Spire. “Our winner is not only a great football player, but an outstanding young man with good character, a leader with a positive attitude and a terrific work ethic.”