Starkville Daily News - - SCORE­CARD -

reg­u­lar sea­son fi­nale against Ole Miss and has spent the time since re­cov­er­ing. He avoided all con­tact drills in the spring as a pre­cau­tion, but team­mates be­lieve Fitzger­ald will be back to his gamechang­ing self come Septem­ber when the sea­son kicks off.

“We've watched him put in the re­hab and been up here early in the morn­ings and he has worked to get him­self back right,” run­ning back Kylin Hill said of Fitzger­ald dur­ing the spring.

Sweat and Sim­mons are look­ing to repli­cate or im­prove upon last sea­son's ef­forts in 2018. Both were All-SEC first team se­lec­tions last year.

Sweat led the SEC with 10.5 sacks and won three dif­fer­ent SEC De­fen­sive Line­man of the Week awards in 2017. He could have used that suc­cess to spring­board into this past April's NFL Draft, but he in­stead elected to re­turn for his se­nior year.

“It was a de­ci­sion that I made with my fam­ily and with my coaches,” Sweat said in the spring. “We thought it would be best for me just to come back and get my de­gree in De­cem­ber and go ahead and have an­other great sea­son and take it from there.”

Like Sweat, Sim­mons also had a strong year last sea­son. He won a pair of SEC De­fen­sive Line­man of the Week awards him­self and fin­ished the cam­paign with 60 tack­les in­clud­ing 12 for loss. He also had five sacks.

The com­bi­na­tion of Sweat and Sim­mons gives MSU as tal­ented of a duo up front as any team in the SEC this com­ing year.

Fitzger­ald, Sweat, Sim­mons and the rest of the Bull­dogs open up the 2018 sea­son on Sept. 1 at 6:30 p.m. in a home game against Stephen F. Austin.

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