STARKVILLE — Mississippi State head football coach Dan Mullen calls Derek Sherrod one of the best offensive tackles he”s ever been around.
All-American voters around the country certainly agree.
Sherrod was named to the Associated Press All-America second team on Tuesday, adding to his lengthy list of All-American honors this season.
The Caledonia native was named first-team All-American by Rivals.com and CBSsports.com, and second team by Scout.com, SI.com and Walter Camp.
Not too shabby for a kid from Caledonia.
“It feels pretty good because Caledonia is a small town, a small school,” Sherrod said. “That just shows it doesn”t matter where you come from, it”s what you do with your opportunity. I”m the second person from our school to go D-one, the other being my brother (Dezmond). It just feels pretty good to represent so well.”
Sherrod has been a rock at left tackle, starting each of the last three seasons through two different coaching staffs.
The senior has been a cog in MSU”s dominant ground game, helping pave the way for the program”s first Southeastern Conference rushing title in 2009 and a runner-up finish for the rushing title this season.
The Bulldogs (8-4) have ridden their ground game to an eight-week stay in the national rankings and a spot in the 2011 Gator Bowl, where they”ll face Michigan on New Year”s Day.
“It”s been a long, tough road,” Sherrod said. “Nothing comes easy, and it”s been a lot of hard work. I”ve got to thank all my teammates because without all of them going hard at practice, I couldn”t have gotten these accolades.”
Sherrod, though not the most vocal player, has provided MSU”s young linemen with a positive example of how to prepare for games and be a model student-athlete.
Mullen describes Sherrod as “professional” — an adjective that is fitting considering he is a consensus first or second NFL Draft pick. ESPN.com”s Mel Kiper has Sherrod ranked No. 25 of his top 32 draft-eligible prospects.
“Every day he comes in and looks to get better, and that shows a sign of maturity and leadership,” Mullen said. “That”s a sign of a great player, probably the best player on our roster. Derek is a guy; when you watch him practice, his demeanor of practice and how he attacks practice and the effort he gives in every drill to make himself better, is something and special and hard to find.”