Perhaps no position was hit harder last season than at safety.
Mississippi State graduated three senior safeties in Derek Pegues, Keith Fitzhugh and De'Mon Glanton leaving only one player at the position with any starting experience.
Find out which players will be replacing that unit from...[details]
2007 (Junior): Named first-team, All-Southeastern Conference at free safety by the Associated Press and by national web site Rivals.com ... Earned second-team, All-SEC by the league’s coaches ... Started all 13 games at free safety for the Bulldogs as a junior ... Registered 50 tackles, including two for loss (minus 3 yards) ... Had five pass interceptions (120 yards and one touchdown) and seven pass deflections ... His interception total was sixth highest single-season mark in school history . . .Credited with one fumble recovery ... Returned 24 kickoffs for 544 yards, a 22.7-yard average ... Finished 10th in the SEC in kick return average (22.7) ... Also returned 27 punts for 268 yards, a 9.9-yard average, with one touchdown ... Finished fourth in the SEC in punt return average (9.9) ... Made a spring move from cornerback to safety where he quickly established himself as an all-star performer ... Pre-season all-Southeastern Conference candidate by both the league’s coaches and writers ... Opened his junior season the way he closed his sophomore one, as a premier defensive back and returner ... Recorded three tackles in the season opener with LSU ... Also returned four kickoffs (86 yards, 21.5 avg.) and three punts (14 yards, 4.7 avg.) against the Tigers ... Added one tackle a week later in the team’s win over Tulane ... Also had four punt returns (16 yards) and four kickoff returns (80 yards) ... Was named the Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Week for his work in Mississippi State’s win at Auburn in Week 3 ... Intercepted Brandon Cox’s first pass attempt of the game, on Auburn’s second snap of the contest, and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown that gave the Bulldogs’ a 10-0 lead at the time ... It marked the third time in his career that he had intercepted a pass and returned it for score, a school record ... Recorded five tackles against the Tigers and was credited with one pass deflection ... Helped hold the Tiger passing game to just 107 yards on the day ... Also returned two kickoffs for 44 yards during the 19-14 win ... Had a pair of hits in Week 4 work against Gardner-Webb ... Also returned two punts for 27 yards and one kickoff for 18 yards ... Made five tackles at South Carolina in Week 5, and intercepted the second pass of his junior season (the seventh of his career) and returned it 15 yards ... Also credited with a pass break up against the Gamecocks ... Made two hits during Week 6 action vs. UAB ... Produced the first double-digit tackle game of his career against Tennessee one week later ... Totaled 10 hits against the Volunteers ... He also returned two punts for 13 yards against UT, moving into seventh place on the school’s all-time return list, surpassing Bernard Euell (1992-95) on the all-time ranking ... Recorded five tackles at West Virginia in Week 8 ... Also returned three punts for 22 yards and two kickoffs for 74 yards against the Mountaineers ... His 51-yard kickoff return was the longest of the year and the longest by a Bulldog since he returned a kick 61 yards against Tulane in 2006 ... With his two kick returns, he moved to second on the school’s all-time list in both attempts (70) and yards (1,541) ... Had four tackles and a fumble recovery in State’s Week 9 win over nationally ranked Kentucky ... His fumble recovery at UK 26 put MSU in position to lengthen its lead to 31-14 with just over eight minutes left in the game ... Also brought back two punts for 14 yards in Lexington ... Returned an interception 40 yards and was credited with a pass break up and one tackle in the Bulldogs’ Week 10 win over nationally No. 21-ranked Alabama ... Also returned three kickoffs for 56 yards and one punt (4 yards) against the Crimson Tide ... Totaled five tackles at Arkansas in Week 11 ... Had one of his most productive return days against the Razorbacks, however, bringing back five kickoffs for 149 yards and three punts for 69 yards ... His 218 yards of combined kick returns were the third most in the SEC this year ... With his five kickoff returns, he tied Tony James (1989-92) for the most career kick returns in school history ... He also moved past Glen Young (1979-82) into sixth place on the career punt return yardage list (531 yards) ... Saved possibly the best game of his junior season for his last, the season-ending Battle For The Golden Egg against Ole Miss ... Brought back four punts for 84 yards against the Rebels, including a 75-yard touchdown return with 2:38 left in the game that pulled MSU into a 14-14 tie with the Rebels and setting the stage for State’s come-from-behind victory ... It was his second career punt return for touchdown (Jacksonville State, 2006) ... With that return yardage, he moved into fourth place on MSU’s career punt return yardage list with 615 yards ... The 84 yards in punt returns were the second most in the SEC this year, and the 75-yarder was the second longest by an SEC player ... He also had three tackles against the Rebels, including one for loss (minus 1 yard) and three pass break ups in the game ... Also had two kickoff returns for 23 yards vs. UM ... Was named Mississippi State’s Defensive Player of the Game for his work in the Bulldogs’ 10-3 win over Central Florida in the 2007 AutoZone Liberty Bowl ... Made four tackles, including one for loss (minus 2 yards), in the win over the Knights ... But turned the game with a pair of interception returns, totaling 45 yards ... With MSU trailing 3-0 midway through the second quarter, he intercepted a Kyle Israel pass and returned it 40 yards to the UCF 6-yard line, setting up the field goal that tied the score at 3-all ... He intercepted his second pass on the succeeding UCF possession ... Also credited with one pass deflection, a break up that secured the win on UCF’s final offensive snap of the game ... Returned one kickoff for 14 yards and a pair of punts (5 yards) against UCF.
2006 (Sophomore): Named second-team, all-Southeastern Conference by the league’s coaches and recruiting web site Scout.com ... Won the starting job at one cornerback to open his sophomore season ... Started all 12 games ... Also handled all kick returns during his sophomore campaign ... Registered 32 tackles during the year, a total that includes one and one-half tackles for loss (minus 6 yards) ... Had four pass interceptions (98 yards in returns for two touchdowns) and nine pass deflections ... Finished eighth in the SEC in interceptions ... Brought back 25 punts for 350 yards, a 14-yard per return average, with one touchdown, and 29 kickoff returns for 687 yards, 23.7 yards per return ... His punt return yardage was the fifth highest in a single season at State, and for the second straight year, his number of kickoff returns set a school record ... His kick return yardage was also a single-season high ... Finished second in the league in punt return average and fifth in the loop in kick return average ... Returned two kickoffs for 47 yards, a 23.5-yard average, against South Carolina in the season opener ... Helped hold USC all-SEC WR Sidney Rice to a career-low two catches in that game ... Recorded four tackles against Auburn in Week 2 ... Added three punt returns for 30 yards against the Tigers ... Had the best return game of his career in Week 3 work against Tulane ... Brought back two kickoffs for 112 yards and added six punt returns for 80 yards against the Green Wave ... His 112 kickoff return yards were the most by a Bulldog since Nick Turner had 163 yards vs. Tennessee in 2003 ... The 80 punt return yards are the most since Turner had 103 yards in that same Tennessee game ... His 61-yard kickoff return in the game was a career best (previous: 51 vs. Auburn ’05) ... His 192 total kick return yards in the game were the most since Turner’s combined 266 yards against UT ... Moved to the top of the Southeastern Conference statistical rankings in kickoff returns, second in punt returns, with that performance ... Made three tackles and a pass deflection during Week 4 action at UAB ... Ran back three punts for 29 yards (9.7-yard average) and one kickoff for 21 yards against the Blazers ... Maintained his spot atop the SEC in kick returns following that game ... Registered two tackles and returned a pass interception 23 yards for a touchdown during Week 5 work at LSU ... It was his first career score and the first interception return for a TD by a Bulldog since teammate Quinton Culberson returned a theft 35 yards for a score against Kentucky in 2004 ... Also returned five kickoffs for 88 yards, a 17.6-yard average, and one punt (11 yards) against the Tigers ... Registered two tackles with a pass deflection in Week 6 against West Virginia ... Also had two kickoff returns for 61 yards, one of which was a 41-yarder ... With that effort, he moved into 10th all-time at MSU in kick return yardage ... Additionally brought back two punts (minus 5 yards) against the Mountaineers ... Ranked first in the SEC in kickoff returns and second in the league in punt returns at the season’s mid-point ... Turned in the top game of his career in the Bulldogs’ Week 7 win over Jacksonville State ... Scored the team’s first two touchdowns against the Gamecocks on the way to a 35-3 win ... Made two tackles, including a half tackle for loss, but it was two big plays that resulted in his TDs ... Intercepted a pass on JSU’s first play of the game and returned it 26 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 MSU lead ... It was his second interception return for a touchdown in his sophomore season ... He became the first Bulldog since Conner Stephens (2000) to return two or more thefts for touchdown in the same season ... Widened the spread to 14-3 in the second quarter by returning a punt a career-long 81 yards for six points ... It was MSU’s first punt return for a touchdown since Jonathan Lowe returned one 73 yards for a score against Florida in 2004 ... It was also the seventh-longest return for a TD in school history, the longest since Kevin Prentiss’ 83-yarder in the 1998 SEC Championship Game ... He became the first Bulldog to score as a specialist and from the line of scrimmage in one season in three years (Fred Reid; rush and kickoff return, 2003) and the first to score in both capacities in the same game since Kevin Prentiss returned a kickoff for a touchdown and hauled in a scoring aerial against Kentucky in 1997 ... Made it two straight weeks as a big-play performer for the Bulldogs at Georgia in Week 8 ... Made just one tackle against UG, but intercepted a pair of passes (46 yards in returns), his third and fourth of the season, and had one pass deflection ... Also returned three kickoffs for 65 yards and one punt (37 yards) vs. the Peach State Bulldogs ... Maintained his hold on the SEC lead in both punt and kickoff returns following that game ... Totaled four tackles during the Bulldogs’ Week 9 game vs. Kentucky ... Also returned five kickoffs for 93 yards (18.6-yard average) and one punt (1 yard) against the Wildcats ... Had six tackles and a pass defensed in State’s Week 10 win over Alabama ... Returned five kickoffs for 85 yards, a 17-yard average, and two punts for 24 yards (12-yard average), against the Crimson Tide ... Made four tackles, including one for loss (minus 6 yards), against Arkansas in Week 11 ... Also returned one kickoff (47 yards) and a pair of punts (22 yards) against the Razorbacks ... With his punt return yardage, he now has 312 on the year, good for seventh on the school’s single-season list ... His 47 kick return yards give him 619 for the season and 1,178 for his career, second and sixth, respectively, on the school’s return yardage list ... Had three tackles and a pass deflection in the season finale at Ole Miss ... Also returned three punts for 38 yards, a 12.7-yard average, and three kickoffs for 68 yards, a 22.7-yard mean ... His 38 yards in punt returns boosted his season total to 350, fifth most on the school’s all-time single-season list ... Solid spring practice was shortened when he missed the final week of workouts due to an off-field incident ... Made seven tackles in the session’s first two scrimmages, one of which was for loss ... That production was enough to hold the first-unit designation at left cornerback entering pre-season practice.
2005 (Freshman): Played in all 11 games during his true freshman season for Mississippi State ... Contributing both on special teams and as a valuable reserve in the secondary, he totaled 14 tackles on the season ... Recorded his first collegiate interception (3-yard return) and was credited with one forced fumble and two pass deflections ... Returned 28 kickoffs for 559 yards, nearly a 20-yard per return average ... Brought back one punt (2 yards) ... Saw action as a true freshman for the Bulldogs from the beginning of the ’05 season ... Played as a reserve at cornerback and returned one kickoff 19 yards against Murray State in the opener ... Began to open eyes with his play in Week 2 at Auburn in the team’s SEC opener ... Returned three kickoffs for 100 yards against the Tigers, including a season-best 51-yard run back in the first quarter ... It was the most kick return yards in a single game by a Bulldog since teammate Jonathan Lowe had 100 yards in kickoff returns against Florida in 2004 ... The 51-yard return was the longest by a State player since Fred Reid carried one kickoff 100 yards against Memphis in 2003 ... Also added one pass deflection in reserve work at cornerback against Auburn ... Made two tackles and a pass deflection vs. Tulane in Week 3 ... Credited with one tackle one week later vs. Georgia ... Returned five kickoffs for 93 yards against the Bulldogs . . .Added a pair of hits and six kickoff returns for 91 yards vs. LSU in Week 5 work ... Again had two tackles a week later at Florida, but added the first pass interception of his career against the Gators (3-yard run back) ... Had four kick returns for 79 yards at UF ... Brought back the lone punt of his season against Houston (2-yard return) ... Returned to the defensive stats sheet during Week 8 work at Kentucky ... Tallied a season-best four hits against the Wildcats and was credited with a forced fumble ... Also returned two kickoffs for 49 yards against UK ... Had a pair of tackles and two kickoff returns (32 yards) against Alabama in Week 9 ... Recorded one tackle at Arkansas in Week 10 ... Also had five kickoffs for 96 yards against the Razorbacks.
Personal: Born Derek Alan Pegues, 9-14-86, in Batesville, Miss. ... Son of Mr. Ezell Pegues and Mrs. Candace Fondren ... His cousin, Dwayne Rudd, played football at the University of Alabama and in the National Football League ... Majoring in interdisciplinary studies.
The Good: A natural athlete who displays good footwork and fluidity in his drop and out of his back-pedal. Possesses great range in the deep half and consistently breaks and makes plays on the ball. A former corner who still possesses the skill set to line up over the slot. Does a great job closing on the ball and has the awareness and body control to go up at the highest point and make tough catches down the field. The Bad: Lacks the size, power and overall frame of a safety at the next level. Isn't a real physical tackler and struggles at the line of scrimmage. Is too easily boxed out down the field and struggles breaking on balls against bigger wideouts.