STARKVILLE, Miss. – For the first time since 2000, multiple Mississippi State football players earned All-America honors. Senior defensive backs Johnthan Banks and Darius Slay, along with junior offensive guard Gabe Jackson were named All-Americans, while freshman linebacker Benardrick McKinney picked up Freshman All-America accolades. Total, the foursome earned a combined 18 All-America honors by 10 different media outlets.
Senior defensive back Johnthan Banks led the way with nine different All-America accolades, becoming the first consensus All-American in Starkville since Fred Smoot in 2000 and only the third in school history (Johnie Cooks, 1981). The NCAA recognizes a consensus All-American as a player who earns All-America honors from three of the five following media outlets: the Sporting News, American Football Coaches Association, Associated Press, Walter Camp Football Foundation and Football Writers Association of America.
The FWAA, Walter Camp, Lindy’s, Phil Steele and FoxSportsNext nabbed the 2012 Jim Thorpe Award winner to their All-America First Team, while the AP, Athlon, CBS Sports and Sports Illustrated placed the team captain on their second team. For the season, the unanimous All-SEC selection tallied 59 tackles, seven pass breakups, four interceptions, 2.0 tackles for loss, a fumble forced and a fumble recovery.
Jackson, a 6-foot-4, 320-pound behemoth at guard, earned Second-Team All-America honors from Phil Steele and FoxSportsNext. The Liberty, Miss., native also picked up honorable mention All-America nods from Sports Illustrated and Pro Football Weekly. Having started all 38 of his career thus far at left guard, Jackson finished 2012 grading out a champion in 11 of 12 regular-season games, while posting 78 knockdowns.
Also picking up honorable mention All-America honors from Pro Football Weekly was Slay, who tied for ninth in the country with five interceptions. The Brunswick, Ga., native finished his senior campaign with 37 tackles, 1.0 tackles for loss, six pass breakups, a fumble recovery and a blocked kick.
McKinney became the fourth Bulldog in school history to earn freshman All-America honors, picking up first-team accolades from Phil Steele, CBS Sports, FoxSportsNEXT and CollegeFootballNews.com. The Tunica, Miss., native finished fourth in the nation among freshman and seventh overall in the SEC with 97 tackles, while also tallying 4.5 tackles for loss, a sack, four pass breakups and a fumble recovery.
For more information on the Maroon and White All-Americans and their appearance in the 2013 TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl, follow the team on Twitter at @MStateFB and like the team on Facebook at Facebook.com/MstateFB.