Photo courtesy of MSU / Mansel Guerry
After getting fed up with the real College Football Hall of Fame's silly rules, SBNation took it upon ourselves to create our own Hall of Fame. The mothership asked each of us to come up with 5 nominees from our respective schools. These nominees needed to be players from our lifetimes, i.e. from about 1980 to 2011. The nominees had to be four years removed from playing college football, or as a coach had to have been a college head coach for at least five seasons. With those parameters in mind, our writers here at For Whom the Cowbell Tolls set forth to pick the best five candidates from Mississippi State's recent football history. And the nominees are.... [opens envelope]
Cornerback, 1999-2000. This highly outspoken, highly talented shut down corner came to Starkville by way of Hinds Community College in Raymond. Smoot made an immediate impact for Joe Lee Dunn's defense, recording 5 INT's in his first year on campus. Smoot also was a big part of what is considered one of the best defenses in MSU history over the span of 1999 and 2000. In just two seasons in Starkville, Smoot recorded 10 INT's, and became known as one of the best shutdown corners in all of college football. Smoot was well known around the SEC for constantly jabbering and talking trash to wide receivers he was covering, and this act famously became known as "Smoot Smack". He was a 1st Team All-SEC selection in both 1999 and 2000, and was a 1st team All-American selection in 2000. Frederic was the recipient of the Atlanta Touchdown Club's area defensive back of the year in 2000, and he was also a finalist for the Thorpe award that year as well. In 2001, the Washington Redskins selected Smoot with the 45th overall pick in the NFL Draft. He played 8 season in the NFL. Fred Smoot is a native of Jackson, Mississippi.
Jackie Wayne Sherrill
Head Coach, 1991-2003. Easily the most successful coach in our program's modern football history, Jackie Wayne Sherrill changed the attitude of the football program at Mississippi State. Sherrill led State to 59 wins in the 90's - the best decade of football in our program's history. Sherrill also led the Bulldogs to a 1998 SEC West Championship and an appearance against eventual national champion Tennessee in the SEC Championship game - our program's only appearance in the game thus far. Sherrill also took the program to six bowl games, including three straight in 1998, 1999, and 2000. Despite being removed from the program for almost a decade now, Sherrill remains a mainstay in the Starkville community and is still heralded as a hero amongst Bulldog fans of all generations.
Linebacker, 1978-1981. Cooks, a product of the Mississippi Delta and Leland, Mississippi, was one of the bigger linebackers of his day. Coming in at 6'4" and 250lbs, Cooks overpowered offenses with his strength and surprising quickness for a player his size. Johnie accumulated 392 tackles in his four years in Starkville, and ranks 3rd all-time in career sacks with 24. In his final two seasons, Cooks led a defense that helped the Bulldogs total 17 wins, including a win over #1 Alabama in 1980 and a Hall of Fame Bowl win over Kansas in the finale of the 1981 season. After the 1981 season, Cooks was named a consensus 1st Team All-American after putting together a 123 tackle season. After displaying his combination of talent and sheer overpowering size and agility in Starkville for four years, Cooks was selected #2 overall in the 1982 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Colts.
Running back, 2002-2005. A bright light during a dark time in Bulldog football history, Jerious Norwood remains as one of the best backs if not the best in MSU history. In four seasons Norwood ran for 3212 yards and accumulated 13 100-yard rushing games in his career, often behind a patch-worked and maligned offensive line. Norwood's 5.6 yards per carry average still ranks as one of the highest all time at Mississippi State. Jerious was an All-SEC selection in 2004 and 2005, and after his MSU career completed in 2005 he went on to be drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in the 3rd round of the 2006 NFL Draft. Norwood is a product of Jackson, Mississippi.
Wide Receiver, 1993-1995. Much like Johnie Cooks, Eric Moulds was a sheer physical specimen the likes that Bulldog fans had seen little of at his position. Moulds athletic ability was off the charts, and in just three seasons he registered 2022 receiving yards on just 118 receptions. Moulds shares the record for most career touchdowns in MSU history with 17. After a 779 yard, 6 TD season in 1995, Moulds was selected by the Buffallo Bills as the 24th overall pick in the 1996 NFL Draft. Moulds was a two time All-SEC selection and an All-American selection in 1994, and he played 12 seasons in the NFL, totaling almost 10,000 yards receiving. Eric Moulds hails from Lucedale, Mississippi.
The next three guys who fell just short of making our 5 nominee list were OL Pork Chop Womack, LB Ray Costict, and CB Walt Harris. Now, let's hear what you think, State fans. Did we get it right? Completely wrong? Almost close? Remember, these could only be nominees from about 1980 - 2007, So obviously there were some great names that played prior to the 80's that were left off.