JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi receiver A.J. Brown is well aware of the school’s former star receiver Laquon Treadwell. One reason is because there’s a picture on the wall of the program’s practice facility that displays some of Treadwell’s achievements.
Brown took notice.
“Every day in the summer I’d say, ’I’m sorry, but you’re coming down,” Brown said with a grin. “It made me work a lot harder.”
The Ole Miss practice facility might at least need a picture of Brown alongside Treadwell’s after the season he just completed. The 6-foot-1 sophomore won the C Spire Conerly Trophy on Tuesday night, adding to his many accolades this season.
The Conerly is given to Mississippi’s top college football player.
Brown leads the Southeastern Conference with 1,252 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns. He had one of his best games in the Egg Bowl against rival Mississippi State, hauling in six passes for 167 yards and a touchdown in a 31-28 upset victory.
Brown also broke Treadwell’s single-season school record for yards receiving. Treadwell set the original mark in 2015 and now plays in the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings.
Brown, who went to Ole Miss despite going to high school just a few miles from Mississippi State’s campus, knows more than most about the Conerly Trophy and how much it means in the state.
“Hard work paying off,” Brown said. “I’m blessed to be put in this situation and give thanks to God. I was surrounded by a lot of good talent (on Tuesday). I was fortunate enough to win.”
The other finalists for the award were Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald, Southern Mississippi running back Ito Smith and Alcorn State running back De’Lance Turner.
Fitzgerald came to Jackson for the Conerly Trophy ceremony despite suffering a dislocated right ankle in the Egg Bowl on Thursday. He had a cast over his leg and was on crutches, but said he hopes to be back for spring practice.
The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Fitzgerald was the offensive catalyst for the 24th-ranked Bulldogs, who have an 8-4 record this season, including a 4-4 mark in the Southeastern Conference. He threw for 15 touchdowns and ran for 14 more over 12 games.
Smith, a 5-foot-9, 195-pound senior, had another fantastic season as Southern Miss’ main running back. He had 1,323 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns, and also caught 36 passes for 370 yards and two touchdowns.