Boley, Eyster, Norwood vying for state’s top college football honor

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 2, 2004

[12/1/04]Michael Boley may have more than winning the Conerly Trophy on his mind tonight in Jackson.

The standout senior linebacker from Southern Miss has been preparing for the Golden Eagles’ season finale against California on Saturday. He will take some time off when the trophy is presented at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum in Jackson.

“I can’t afford to let him miss a lot of practice,” Southern Miss coach Jeff Bower said. “He might have to leave a little early, but we’re trying to work that out. We want him to be a part of the ceremony, but at the same time, it’s a heavy practice day.”

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Southern Miss earned a spot in the New Orleans Bowl on Dec. 14 with a win over Alabama-Birmingham on Saturday, and can knock the fourth-ranked Golden Bears from a Rose Bowl berth with a win in Hattiesburg this Saturday.

But before that, Boley will try to become the second Southern Miss linebacker to earn the state’s highest college football honor. Two years ago, Rod Davis won the award.

“He’s a playmaker,” Bower said. “As I’ve said so often, when you’ve got guys like him, he’s got to step up and play well for us to be what we want to be.”

Boley will compete against Mississippi State running back Jerious Norwood, the Southeastern Conference’s third-leading rusher, and Delta State sophomore quarterback Scott Eyster.

“I think this is a great thing for both him and the school,” Delta State coach Rick Rhoades said of Eyster. “He’s had a great year and it says a lot not only for him, but for the whole state that an athlete at a smaller school can win this award. It is not the case in other states.”

Eyster completed 229 of 371 passes for 3,389 yards and tossed 28 touchdowns. He will try to become the third Delta State player to win the award. Tregnel Thomas won in 1996, and Josh Bright in 2000.

Norwood averaged 95 yards rushing per game and scored seven TDs.

Founded in 1996, the Conerly Trophy is Mississippi’s Heisman Trophy, and is named after the late Charlie Conerly, a former Ole Miss star.

The trophy presentation will be broadcast live on Mississippi Public Broadcasting at 7 p.m. The event will be hosted by ESPN football analyst Ron Franklin.

“It worked out perfectly for me,” Franklin said. “I can come home for the Conerly on Wednesday on my way to Atlanta to host the SEC Legends Dinner on Friday.”