The 2018 Mississippi State football game begins on Saturday. In honor of the season starting in just three days, lets take a look at the career of former MSU defensive back, #3 Derek Pegues.
Pegues was a dominant 5-foot-10, 190-pound defensive back for Bulldogs from 2005-18. He was also a talented kick returner for MSU.
Hailing from Batesville, Miss., Pegues played his high school career at South Panola High School where he was a talented two-way player. He played quarterback and defensive back for the Tigers and led South Panola team to back-to-back state titles, undefeated seasons, and USA Today national top-10 finishes.
He was rated the No. 4 cornerback prospect and the No. 35 player, regardless of position, in the nation by the Rivals.com and the No. 2 prospect in the entire state of Mississippi.
During his senior season of high school, Pegues was named Mississippi’s Gatorade Player of the Year. The five-star prospect by Rivals.com rushed for 1,659 yards and 26 touchdowns. He also passed for 637 yards and six touchdowns. On defense, he had 51 tackles and five interceptions.
He was then selected to the West team for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas, where he was named the defensive player of the game for his efforts. He had one interception while playing cornerback in the all-star game.
In his high school career, the dynamic athlete rushed for 4,104 yards and accounted for 86 total touchdowns.
On Feb. 2, 2005, Pegues committed to MSU and made an immediate contribution to the Bulldogs’ defense in his true freshman season in 2005.
He played all 11 games during the year and contributed on both special teams and was a valuable reserve in the secondary.
He totaled 14 tackles on the season and grabbed his first collegiate interception in week 3 against Florida Gators quarterback Chris Leak and was credited with one forced fumble and two pass deflections. He also returned 28 kickoffs for 559 yards.
During his sophomore season, Pegues won the starting job at one cornerback, where he started all 12 games. He also handled all kick returns during on the year.
He posted 32 tackles during the year to go along with four interceptions, two of which were pick-sixes. He finished eighth in the SEC in interceptions
As a returner, he brought back 25 punts for 350 yards, a 14-yard per return average, with one touchdown, and 29 kickoff returns for 687 yards, 23.7 yards per return, which was the fifth highest average in a single season at State, and for the second straight year, his number of kickoff returns set a school record
His kick return yardage was also a single-season high. He finished second in the SEC in punt return average and fifth in kick return average.
On the year, he was named second-team, all-Southeastern Conference by the league’s coaches.
During his junior season, Pegues made a smooth transition from corner to free safety, where he started all 13 games in 2007 and became one of the best secondary players in the SEC.
He totaled 50 tackles, including two for loss to go with five pass interceptions. He had 120 interception yards, which was good for one touchdown. His interception total was sixth highest single-season mark in MSU history.
As a returner, he returned 24 kickoffs for 544 yards, a 22.7-yard average, which was 10th in the SEC in kick return average. He also returned 27 punts for 268 yards, a 9.9-yard average with one touchdown. That one touchdown was a huge one, as the 75 yard punt return propelled the Bulldogs to a 14-7 win in the Egg Bowl vs. rival Ole Miss.
For his junior year, he was named first-team, All-Southeastern Conference at free safety by the Associated Press and earned second-team, All-SEC by the league’s coaches and was the 2007 AutoZone Liberty Bowl MVP in a 10-3 win over Central Florida. He recorded four tackles. one for loss in the win over the Knights.
As a senior, Pegues again started at free safety for the Bulldogs. He tied his career-high with 50 tackles and deflected six passes and intercepted two others.
He also served as a kick and punt returner for the Bulldogs where he ranked eighth in the SEC with 26 punt returns for 172 yards, a 6.6-yard average and a 22.8-yard average on 31 kickoff returns.
He left MSU as The Bulldogs’ all-time leader in total kick returns, total kick yardage, kickoff returns and kickoff return yardage.
He was selected to the coaches All-SEC second-team following his final season