Mullen named AP SEC Coach of the Year

Mississippi State head football coach Dan Mullen was named 2014 Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year, while five of his players earned All-SEC honors, the Associated Press announced last week.

Mullen is the fourth coach in program history to take home the award, joining Paul Davis (1963), Charley Shira (1970) and Sylvester Croom (2007). The New Hampshire native was announced the winner hours after being named the American Football Coaches Association’s 2014 Region 2 Coach of the Year.

State’s head coach took home the award after leading his team from unranked to No. 1 quicker than any team in college football history, breaking 22 single-season statistical records and spending the last nine weeks ranked inside the top-10 of the national rankings.

Mullen’s protege, quarterback Dak Prescott, became the fifth signal caller in school history and the first one since 1986 to pick up first-team All-SEC honors. The finalist for the Maxwell Award, Davey O’Brien Award, Manning Award, and Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award made the team after finishing the regular season ranked fifth in the FBS with 228 points responsible for and sixth with 327.9 yards of total offense per game.

Also making the first team on offense was senior right guard Ben Beckwith, who was the only player to be named SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week three times this season. The Burlsworth Trophy finalist has blocked for an offense which currently ranks top-20 nationally in total offense (9th, SEC-best 506.2 yards per game), scoring offense (14th, 37.2 points per game) and rushing offense (18th, 239.8 yards per game).

Earning a spot on the second team offense was running back Josh Robinson. The junior finished the regular season third in the league in rushing yards (1,128) and fifth in all-purpose yards (1,498). Robinson is the fourth running back in six years under Mullen to be named All-SEC, with the previous three currently in the National Football League.

Defensively, senior defensive lineman Preston Smith and junior linebacker Benardrick McKinney were named to the second team. Smith ranked fourth in the conference in tackles for loss (14.5) and fifth in sacks (9.0), making him the first Bulldog defensive lineman to earn first or second team honors since current Philadelphia Eagles star Fletcher Cox did so in 2011. McKinney picked up the nod after leading his defense to a top-10 scoring defense nationally, giving up just 19.4 points per game. The Tunica native, who recorded a team-high 61 tackles, is the fourth State linebacker in six years under Mullen to make the team, joining current NFL players Pernell McPhee (2009-10), Chris White (2010) and Cam Lawrence (2012).

Mullen and his five All-SEC Bulldogs return to action Dec. 31, as the No. 7 Bulldogs battle No. 12 Georgia Tech in the Capital One Orange Bowl. The 7 p.m. kickoff at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., will be televised live on ESPN.

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