Mississippi State’s Rooker, Georgia’s Williams Named 2016-2017 Roy F. Kramer SEC Athletes Of The Year
Mississippi State baseball player Brent Rooker and Georgia track and field athlete Kendell Williams have been named the 2016-2017 Roy F. Kramer SEC Male and Female Athletes of the Year by a vote of the league's athletics directors, Commissioner Greg Sankey announced today.
"The SEC is proud to honor Brent and Kendell as the recipients of this year’s Roy F. Kramer Athletes of the Year,” said SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey. “They have competed at the highest level of collegiate athletics and through their hard work, dedication and commitment to excellence have been successful in their endeavors. They are great examples of what it means to be a student-athlete in the Southeastern Conference and are outstanding representatives of their universities as both students and athletes.”
The 2017 National Player of the Year, Rooker is the first Southeastern Conference player to ever surpass 20 home runs, 30 doubles and 75 RBIs in a single season, becoming the first Division I player to join the 20-30-75 club since 2002.
The Germantown, Tennessee native claimed only the second SEC Triple Crown in league history by leading the conference in batting average (.387), home runs (23) and RBIs (82). He joins fellow Diamond Dawg Rafael Palmeiro, who accomplished the feat in 1984.
Rooker had a busy award season as he was been named National Player of the Year by Collegiate Baseball and MSU's first-ever Southeastern Conference Player of the Year, in addition to First Team All-America honors from five publications. Rooker was also named First Team All-SEC and First Team All-South Region by the American Baseball Coaches Association.
A finalist for the Golden Spikes Award and Dick Howser Trophy, the redshirt junior became the 14th player in MSU history to be drafted in the first round of the MLB Draft when he was taken No. 35 by the Minnesota Twins in June 2017.
He led the SEC in an astounding eight different categories, including batting average (.387), slugging percentage (.810), on-base percentage (.495), hits (96), RBI (82), doubles (30), home runs (23) and total bases (201). While leading the nation in doubles, slugging percentage and total bases.
He tallied 33 multi-hit games and 21 multi-RBI games, including three four-hit games and five games with five or more RBIs. His 23 home runs were the most by a Bulldog since 1985 when Will Clark hit 25.
Williams won the Honda Award for track and field, giving the Bulldogs' their 20th winner in history but first in the sport.
A native of Marietta, Ga., Williams, scored 6,265 to capture her third NCAA heptathlon title (2014, 2016, 2017) and her seventh national championship overall to end her career. Her final tally was the second best of her career at the time behind her 6,402 school record at the 2016 Olympic Trials. Following this year’s NCAA meet, Williams returned to action at the USATF Outdoor Championships and scored a personal best 6,564 points for the title.
She becomes only the third competitor in NCAA history to win at least three national heptathlon crowns.
Williams also became the only woman in NCAA Division I Indoor history to win four times in the same event. She ends her career with seven of the top-10 pentathlon scores in collegiate history, including the top four.
A semifinalist for The Bowerman Award in 2016 and 2017, Williams posted the largest margin of victory (306 points) since 2012 in the 2017 NCAA heptathlon and extended her streak of 6200-point performances in heptathlon at NCAAs to three in a row.
The other male nominees were: Jonathan Allen, Alabama (football); Clive Pullen, Arkansas (track & field); Daniel Carlson, Auburn (football); Caeleb Dressel, Florida (swimming); Devon Williams, Georgia (track & field); Jon Toth, Kentucky (football); Sam Burns, LSU (golf); Braden Thornberry, Ole Miss (golf); J’den Cox, Missouri (wrestling); Sindarius Thornwell, South Carolina (basketball); Christian Coleman, Tennessee (track & field); Fred Kerley, Texas A&M (track & field); Matthias Schwab, Vanderbilt (golf).
The other female nominees were: Krystal Rivers, Alabama (volleyball); Nicole Schroeder, Arkansas (softball); Casie Ramsier, Auburn (soccer); Alex McMurty, Florida (gymnastics); Sha'Keela Saunders, Kentucky (track & field); Ashleigh Gnat, LSU (gymnastics); Kaitlin Lee, Ole Miss (softball); Victoria Vivians, Mississippi State (basketball); Karissa Schweizer, Missouri (track & field); A’ja Wilson, South Carolina (basketball); Meghan Gregg, Tennessee (softball); Sarah Gibson, Texas A&M (swimming); Sydney Campbell, Vanderbilt (tennis).
The SEC Athletes of the Year Awards were first presented in 1976 for men and 1984 for women. The award was renamed the Roy F. Kramer Athletes of the Year in 2004 to honor the former commissioner who served the conference from 1990-2002.