Home Career Tough choice for Conerly voters, starting with Judkins, Sanders

Tough choice for Conerly voters, starting with Judkins, Sanders


Quinshawn Judkins tackles the hurdles against Texas A & M. (Photo by Joshua McCoy/Ole Miss Athletics)

Deion Sanders was asked earlier this week if he was proud of his son Scheder for being named a Jackson State finalist for the C Spire Conerly Trophy.

“Well, I’d like to see him win,” Sanders said, smiling. “We were there last year, dressed up and everything. You don’t want to clean up, go out there and see someone else win the trophy. We are winners. We want to win.”

Rick Cleveland

Shader Sanders can certainly win Connerly. He is among the top three favorites. He is the quarterback of an undefeated, nationally ranked team. He threw 31 touchdowns with just five interceptions. He is resourceful and precise. He is a winner.

But he’s not a slam dunk.

Quinshawn Judkins, a freshman at Ole Miss, certainly deserves some serious attention. Looking like a reincarnation of the great Walter Payton at times, Judkins rushed for 1,117 yards and 15 touchdowns in 10 games. He was at his best against some of the most talented quarterbacks in the country.

Just look at Judkins’ last four games: 135 yards and two touchdowns vs. Alabama, 205 yards and two touchdowns vs. Texas A&M, 111 yards and two touchdowns vs. LSU, 139 yards and two touchdowns vs. Auburn.

It’s not a light-hearted comparison I make to Payton, the greatest all-around back these eyes have ever seen. I once asked Hall of Fame quarterback D. Lewis who was the toughest person he had to fight. Lewis laughed before answering. “Walter Payton, not even close,” DD said. “Trying to wrestle Walter was like trying to wrestle a 210-pound bowling ball.”

Judkins is similar in many ways. Payton was 5-foot-10 and weighed 210. Judkins is 5-11 and weighs 210. Judkins, like Payton, explodes through the line. When he gets hit, the battle has just begun. He bounces off defenders, runs through arm tackles, cuts on dimes, and his helmet always comes off at the end of any pileup. When you fight Judkins, it hurts you more than him, as it always did with Payton.

Shader Sanders gets past Grambling halfback Joshua Reed.

That’s not to say that Quinshawn Judkins is another Walter Payton. It is too early for that. But keep in mind, Judkins just turned 19 last month. It should only get stronger.

Judkins and Shedair Sanders have great company among the Conerly finalists:

  • Delta State quarterback Patrick Shegog has thrown for 2,485 yards and rushed for 685 yards for a team that has won 10 games and is on pace to make the Division II playoffs.
  • Mississippi State junior cornerback Emmanuel Forbes ranks second in the nation in pass interceptions with five and tied the Southeastern Conference record with five career pick-sixes (interceptions for touchdowns).
  • Southern Miss wide receiver Jason Brownlee caught 44 passes for 687 yards and six touchdowns despite USM playing quarterbacks with injuries. He is tall, slim and fast. You will watch Brownlee on Sundays.
  • Elkhorn running back Jarveon Howard leads the SWAC in rushing with 1,174 yards. Howard, a transfer from Syracuse, runs with power and speed and has scored 11 touchdowns.

Other finalists include Mississippi Valley State quarterback Ronnie Thomas, Belhaven linebacker Conner Fordham, Mississippi College running back Marcus Williams and Millsaps wide receiver Moise Tezzo.

Important to note: Each finalist was selected by the college or university they represent. Conerly will be introduced at a banquet Nov. 29 at the Country Club of Jackson.

Yes, I have the right to vote, and no, I haven’t decided. The deadline for voting is November 27. Until then, there are vital games to be played.

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