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Fitzgerald’s Run at History

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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In terms of career numbers, by the time it's all said and done, the SEC will have never seen anyone quite like Fitzgerald.

Already, it's been a record-setting career for Mississippi State's Nick Fitzgerald. Before entering his senior season, the dual-threat quarterback has set eleven program and three SEC marks and is one of just a few names on a number of other notable lists. Fitzgerald, again, with a year to go, is one of only three signal callers in league history with 2,400 rushing yards and 30 touchdowns, joining Dak Prescott and Tim Tebow. With just 462 more yards, Fitzgerald would pass Tebow as the conference's all-time leader in rushing yards by a quarterback.

In terms of career numbers, by the time it's all said and done, the SEC will have never seen anyone quite like Fitzgerald.

To put Fitzgerald's production into national perspective, 23 quarterbacks, he included, have reached his current measure of 4,440 passing yards and 2,486 rushing yards this millennium; Fitzgerald is the only one to have done it in fewer than 37 games, playing, sometimes sparingly, in merely 32.

What Fitzgerald did as a sophomore, alone, has rarely been matched. Since 2000, he, Lamar Jackson, Johnny Manziel, Cam Newton and Denard Robinson are the only power five quarterbacks with a 2,400-yard passing, 1,350-yard rushing season. Of that group, nobody averaged more yards per rush than Fitzgerald's 7.1, an SEC record.

Currently at 6,926 career total yards, Fitzgerald is poised to join the SEC's 10,000-yard club, an exclusive group with, as constituted, only ten members. Furthermore, with 72 total touchdowns, he may additionally join the league's 100-touchdown club, an even more exclusive group with only six members. Fitzgerald will very likely, and very soon, set a new, never-before-seen standard for dual-threat production in college football's toughest conference.

If Fitzgerald never reaches the endzone again, he would still rank in the top 25 in SEC history in touchdowns scored. His book is already on the shelf; the story is just still being finished. 

Fitzgerald, for point of reference, has more career passing touchdowns than Zach Mettenberger and more career rushing touchdowns than Fred Taylor -- all ahead of the start of his senior season. Over Fitzgerald's last 21 full games, he has scored 64 total touchdowns; Florida, as a team, has 63 the past two years combined. Of Fitzgerald's last 19 games, he has at least 100 yards rushing in 12 of them; Nick Chubb, the second-leading rusher in the SEC, ever, has nine such performances in that same span.

Clearly a Heisman Trophy candidate, Fitzgerald has 14 career 100-yard rushing outings, a 417-yard passing game on his resume and both a seven-touchdown outburst and a six-score effort. Fitzgerald has rushed for at least two touchdowns and 100 yards and thrown for a score in the same game eight different times. He leads all returning quarterbacks in career rushing scores, 100-yard games and yards per carry, a 6.5 yard rate which is good for tenth in the SEC all-time, ahead of the likes of Leonard Fournette, Todd Gurley and Darren McFadden.

A do-it-all talent, Fitzgerald, a former high school receiver, even caught a pass as a sophomore against BYU.

Above all of the numbers, there is a winning edge to Fitzgerald, just as there was to his famed predecessor, Dak Prescott. A team captain, Fitzgerald leads Mississippi State forward as a major player in the SEC. He is a big reason why many are picking the Bulldogs to make a run both in the league and nationally. Back healthy after a broken right ankle, Fitzgerald, primed and poised for a grand finale, is coming for history and hardware alike.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports