BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Mississippi State’s trio of Charles Cross, Emmanuel Forbes and Jaden Walley were named to the Freshman All-SEC Team by league coaches on Tuesday.
At least one Mississippi State freshman has made the team during 20 of the last 21 years. It is the most selections to the team since four Bulldogs were honored during the 2009 season. That season, defensive backs Johnthan Banks and Corey Broomfield, wide receiver Chad Bumphis and defensive lineman Fletcher Cox were all honored by the conference coaches for their rookie performances.
Walley broke Mardye McDole‘s 43-year-old MSU freshman record for receiving yards in a season with 691 yards. That mark ranks second among all freshmen nationally and ninth overall in the SEC. He ended the regular season with four consecutive 100-yard receiving performances, becoming the first true freshman in program history to achieve the feat.
The D’Iberville, Mississippi, native also set the MSU record for freshman receiving yards in a game when he hauled in nine catches for 176 yards at Ole Miss. Walley owns two touchdown catches this year, including a career-long 51-yard touchdown reception against Georgia. He appeared in all 10 games for the Bulldogs while earning seven starts.
Starting eight games at cornerback for MSU, Forbes made a name for himself as a playmaker in the MSU secondary. He ranks tied for fifth in the FBS and tied for first in the SEC in interceptions this year with four, including two returned for touchdowns. The four interceptions are tied for the most nationally by a true freshman.
A native of Grenada, Mississippi, Forbes finished the regular season with 41 tackles and 10 passes defended. In State’s win against Missouri, he intercepted two passes and returned one 29 yards for a touchdown, marking the first time a Bulldog recorded multiple interceptions in a game since Mark McLaurin in 2017. He returned the second pick of his career 60 yards for a score against Texas A&M.
Cross held down the starting position at left tackle during nine games this year. In his first career start, he was a part of an offensive line that protected K.J. Costello as he passed for an SEC and MSU record 623 yards and five touchdowns.
The Laurel, Mississippi, native helped the State offense record four 400-yard performances. According to PFF, Cross earned the highest offensive grade (71.8) on the team against Alabama and graded as the No. 2 pass blocker (88.5), which tied for No. 7 in the FBS for that week. He also finished as MSU’s top offensive lineman (70.1) and pass blocker (80.6) grades against Arkansas.
For a school-record 11th straight season, Mississippi State football is going bowling as the Bulldogs will face No. 24 Tulsa in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl at 11 a.m. CT on Dec. 31 at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas. The game will be televised on ESPN. Updates regarding ticket information will be released when available.