MSU's Fitzgerald makes two more watch lists

MSU's Nick Fitzgerald, right
Staff Writer

The 2017 football season is still several weeks away, but all eyes are already on Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald as he continues to pile up preseason accolades.
Fitzgerald was selected to the Davey O’Brien Award and Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award watch lists on Wednesday. It’s just the latest honors for the young man expected to be the centerpiece of MSU’s offense in the upcoming campaign.
Already this summer, Fitzgerald had been placed on the Maxwell Award watch list and was selected by the media as an All-Southeastern Conference second-team member.
Such attention should come as no surprise. Fitzgerald, in his first season as MSU’s starter last year, proved to be one of the most exciting players in college football.
“He had a pretty solid year last year,” MSU head coach Dan Mullen said of Fitzgerald at SEC Media Days earlier this month. “He led the SEC in total offense and had a great year running the football.”
Fitzgerald led the SEC in total yardage last season, racking up 3,798 yards. He rushed for more than 100 yards in eight different games, an SEC record for a quarterback. He also set an SEC quarterbacking record as he averaged 7.1 yards per carry.
Fitzgerald was no slouch throwing the football either. He led the nation in games with 300 or more yards passing and 100 or more yards rushing, accomplishing that feat three different times.
Similar production would give Fitzgerald a solid chance to remain in the running for all of his possible 2017 awards.
Mullen believes the key to Fitzgerald’s continued success is his progression as a quarterback.
“I want to see a guy that’s very confident with what’s going on on the field,” Mullen said during the spring of his expectations for Fitzgerald. “I want to see him improve his leadership and his decision-making. I want to see him get through reads more quickly and take the check down and not try to force things. I want him to have a better overall understanding of the field. I want him to be able to look one way and already know what’s going on on the other side of the field. He shouldn’t need to look to know what’s going on because he should know what we’re doing on offense and what they’re doing on defense. So if he wants to get to a third or fourth read, he already should know what’s going on.”
The Davey O’Brien Award will choose 16 semifinalists on Nov. 7, then cut the field to three finalists on Nov. 20. The winner will be announced during the Home Depot College Football Awards on Dec. 7.
The Golden Arm Award announces 15 finalists in September before presenting the award on Dec. 8.