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April 17, 2024

HIS TIME 

Shegog Brings Home Conerly Trophy

By Andy Collier, The Bolivar Bullet

The night of November, 28, 2023 at the Country Club of Jackson will be one that Delta State University won’t forget and one that graduate student Patrick Shegog will cherish for the rest of his life. 

The 23-year-old Batesville native and quarterback was awarded the C Spire Conerly Trophy which goes to the best collegiate football player at a four-year institution in Mississippi. He beat out Ole Miss sophomore running back Quinshon Judkins and Mississippi State University graduate student linebacker Nathaniel Watson for the award. 

Shegog’s accomplishment marked just the third time in DSU history that a player has won the award and the first time since 2000 when quarterback Josh Bright brought home the trophy for the Statesmen. DSU running back Tregnal Thomas won the Conerly Trophy in 1996 which was the first year of the award. 

Shegog put up huge numbers by throwing for 32 touchdowns and just two interceptions on 300 pass attempts and ran for 12 touchdowns and lost just one fumble on 108 carries. He racked up 3,308 of DSU’s 5,416 yards of total offense and was responsible for 264 of the team’s 515 points this season. He led DSU to a 10-2 record with a second straight Gulf South Conference Championship and a second consecutive trip to the second round of the NCAA Division II Football Playoffs. 

During a special press conference held by DSU on Nov. 29, Shegog expressed how honored and humbled he was to bring home the trophy.

“I was on stage with a lot of great players from all the great universities in Mississippi,” said Shegog. “Just being able to be the one to come out on top meant a great deal to me. I know how much it means to the community and that’s really why I wanted to bring it home. I wanted to bring it home for not only myself and my family but for the Delta State family.”

The road to get to the Conerly was a tough one for Shegog. Shegog, who won GSC Co-Offensive Freshman of the Year in 2018, suffered a season ending injury with a broken collar bone in game three of the 2019 season. After COVID-19 cancelled the 2020 season, he had a disappointing year in 2021 as the Statesmen went 5-6.

At the start of the 2022 season, which was his red-shirt junior year, he had lost his starting position. 

“He came to fall camp, and he entered fall camp as our third string quarterback,” said Delta State Head Football Coach Todd Cooley at the Conerly Trophy ceremony. 

Cooley remembered Shegog being business like during that time.

“He never batted an eye,” said Cooley. “We go into the first game of the season at Kentucky State, and he’s still our third string quarterback. What he does is the two weeks leading up to that game, he goes to scout team and runs scout team quarterback and serves our defense. We were running against the triple option offense, and he was the fastest thing we could show a look with. He did it and didn’t even blink.”

Shegog was behind Cole Kirk and Austin Davidson on the depth chart at the start of 2022. Heading into the second game of the year against McKendree, Shegog had started to improve his standing on the team. 

“In the second game, he’s now the back up quarterback,” said Cooley. “He goes in and takes over.” 

Shegog took over all right as he threw for 296 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions and rushed for 36 yards with a touchdown on seven carries to lead DSU to a 58-34 victory. After that game, Shegog was the starter and never looked back. 

“When I got in the game, I had a chance to make a difference,” said Shegog. “Just letting God lead the way, I was able to perform well, and we got the win in a pretty convincing way. From then on, it was a matter of keeping it up and keeping the same level of performance up. Eventually, we won a lot of games and won the championship for the first time in a lot of years.”

In 2022, he led DSU to an 11-2 record with the program’s first GSC title since 2014. The Statesmen also made their first trip to the NCAA Division II Playoffs since 2017. He threw 22 touchdowns, rushed for 17 scores and had 3,579 yards of offense to earn GSC Offensive Player of the Year. He repeated that honor this year. 

Shegog said he’s had a great relationship with Davidson and Kirk no matter who was higher on the depth chart. 

“I understood the guys I was competing against were my brothers,” said Shegog. “The most important thing for me at that time was being a good teammate. I think if you ask those guys, I was. Even when the roles were reversed, there was the same love reciprocated. That’s why with those two guys especially, I’ll love them forever. I’m sure they can say the same thing (about me). It was a time that wasn’t easy, but I definitely wouldn’t change a thing because of the way everything played out. It was destiny I guess.”

Along with the numbers he put up, Shegog earned the trust and respect of everyone on the team. 

Cooley, who has been the Statesmen’s coach since 2013, was emphatic when talking about how much Shegog meant to the team this year.

“This man carried an entire university on his back this year and his teammates,” said Cooley. “He handled it with such class and dignity. He is the leader of our football team. I thank God for him everyday, because he made me a better coach. I got to spend so much time around him. It’s been awesome. I don’t have any kids of my own, but if I did I would want them to be like Patrick Shegog.”

To go with his Conerly Trophy, Shegog was named a finalist for the Harlon Hill Trophy which goes to the top player in NCAA Division II Football. That award will be announced on Dec. 15. 

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