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Liberty Bowl

Locals gear up for Liberty Bowl tomorrow

By Myra Bean
Derek Pegues, Demario Bobo and the Mississippi State Bulldogs will be making their first bowl appearance since SEC Coach of the Year Sylvester “Sly” Croom took over the program four years ago.

The Autozone Liberty Bowl kicks off at 3:30 p.m. central standard time in Memphis tomorrow. The Bulldogs will take on the Conference USA Champions University of Central Florida Knights on an ESPN broadcast.

The game is sold out and over 30,000 Mississippi State fans with their cowbells will be on hand.

After being selected a high school all-state player, Bobo made the decision to sign with Mississippi State and played in all but one game during his freshman season. He was selected to the SEC All-Freshman team.

Had it not been for a medical redshirt, Demario Bobo would have finished his fourth year of play at Mississippi State this year. He was a 2004 graduate of South Panola. He has been a major factor of the Bulldog defense this season after starting the season with mononucleosis and tonsilitis. He is the son of Perry Cosby and Patricia Bobo and majors in interdisciplinary studies.

Pegues was a decorated  high school football player with only one loss in his career.

He went to Mississippi State the fall of 2005 with two high school state championship rings to his credit. He has been Mississippi State’s top return man the last three years and a hero in the two of the last three games of this season with interceptions which turned into touchdowns.

Pegues’ interception against Alabama turned into a touchdown five plays later.

Throughout the season and postseason, Pegues has earned accolades from the SEC and different sporting sites and magazines across the country.

In a November 26 Mississippi State press release, Pegues was named the Southeastern Conference Special Teams Player of the Week. Pegues’ 75-yard punt return for a touchdown tied Mississippi State’s game with rival Ole Miss with only 2:38 remaining in the game.

It was Pegues’ second career punt return for a touchdown, and the second-longest as well. The Batesville native also had an 81-yard return for score against Jacksonville State in 2006.

Mississippi State trailed 14-7 with just under three minutes remaining when Pegues fielded a bouncing punt at the Bulldog 25 yardline. He raced directly between the hashmarks to the endzone and State tied the score with the extra point.

The defensive back also claimed defensive player of the week honors following State’s win over Auburn earlier in the season, and he becomes the first MSU player to be honored twice in the same year since Jerious Norwood claimed the offensive award two times in 2004.

Pegues’ award marks the fifth time an MSU player has earned player of the week honors this season.

Pegues also earned special teams player of the week honors in 2006 following the Jacksonville State game.

In a November 28 release, Rivals.com selected the Bulldog free safety Pegues to its first-team all-SEC defense.

Pegues made 46 tackles and tied for the team lead with three pass interceptions in 2007.  He returned one of those interceptions 20 yards for a touchdown in State’s win over Auburn.  Pegues also brought back a punt 75 yards for a score in MSU’s season-ending win over Ole Miss.

On December 4 Mississippi State had four players chosen to the 2007 All-Southeastern Conference Team including Pegues who earned second-team, all-SEC recognition.

On December 6 Mississippi State head football coach Sylvester Croom was named the Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year by the Associated Press.

 Earlier that week, Croom was also named the SEC Coach of the Year by the league’s other head football coaches, the American Football Coaches Association Region 2 Coach of the Year, and one of 10 finalists for the Liberty Mutual National Coach of the Year.

Additionally, MSU had four players chosen to the 2007 All-Southeastern Conference Team by the sportswriters that cover the league.

Junior free safety Derek Pegues was selected first-team, all-SEC, senior defensive end Titus Brown (Tuscaloosa, Ala.) was accorded second-team all-league honors, while junior offensive tackle Michael Brown (College Park, Ga.) and senior center Royce Blackledge (Sandersville, Miss.) were named honorable mention all-SEC.

On December 13 four Mississippi State football players earned all-Southeastern Conference recognition from Phil Steele’s Publications, the Cleveland, Ohio, based college football organization.

Pegues earned second-team accolades in the secondary and third-team honors as a punt returner.

On December 21 he was named first-team, all-Southeastern Conference by espn.com, and Croom was named the web site’s SEC Coach of the Year.

 He was also awarded as MSU Student Athelete for the spring semester with the highest GPA among MSU student athletes, he currently has a 3.5 GPA, according to his mother Candace Fondren.  He is also the son of Ezell Pegues and majors in fitness management.

Croom has been a unanimous Coach of the Year selection, also earning that designation from the league’s other coaches and the Associated Press.  He is the AFCA Region 2 Coach of the Year and a finalist for the Liberty Mutual National Coach of the Year.