MSU’s Simmons, Ole Miss’ Little on Outland Trophy watch list

Published 5:40 pm Tuesday, July 24, 2018

OXFORD ­— Two of Mississippi’s best college linemen are also among the country’s best.

Ole Miss offensive tackle Greg Little and Mississippi State defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons were both named to the preseason watch list for the Outland Trophy on Tuesday.

The Outland Trophy is given annually by the Football Writers Association of America to the top interior lineman — offense or defense — in college football. An interior lineman is defined as a tackle, guard or center.

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The watch list consists of 82 players, and will be narrowed to seven semifinalists and then three finalists in November. The winner will be announced on Dec. 6.

Little and Simmons are among 11 Southeastern Conference players named to the watch list.
Since arriving at Ole Miss two seasons ago, Little has played at left tackle in every game. He earned preseason All-America first team honors this year from the Sporting News and second team accolades from Lindy’s, Athlon and Phil Steele.

Little helped protect the Ole Miss quarterbacks that led the SEC and ranked 11th nationally in passing at 328.4 yards per game in 2017.

Simmons, meanwhile, recorded 60 tackles and was a first-team All-SEC selection last season. The Macon native ranked 11th in the conference with 12 tackles for loss, including a career-best five sacks. He forced and recovered two fumbles while tallying three blocks on special teams, which tied SMU’s Justin Lawler for the national lead.

Simmons also scored two touchdowns in a win over Louisiana Tech, becoming the first Mississippi State defensive player since 2009 to score twice in a game. Simmons was a two-time SEC Defensive Player of the Week in 2017.

In addition to Simmons making the Outland watch list, he and teammate Montez Sweat are among 97 players on the watch list for the Bronco Nagurski Trophy for the nation’s best defensive player. The award will be presented Dec. 3.

Sweat led the SEC with 10.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss in 2017 en route to a first-team All-SEC selection. He was the first Bulldog to lead the league in sacks since Willie Evans in 2005.