Thursday marked a somber day for the Mississippi State football community as they mourned the loss of Johnie Cooks, one of the program’s most legendary defensive players. According to sources close to The Starkville Daily News, Cooks passed away after a battle with health issues.

Cooks, who played for the Bulldogs from 1977 to 1981, left an indelible mark on the field. As a four-year letterman, he amassed an impressive 373 career tackles.

His standout performance came during his junior year when he recorded a remarkable 24 tackles in a single game against Auburn, earning him the title of Defensive Most Valuable Player in the 1981 Hall of Fame Bowl.

Recognized as an All-American in 1981 and a three-time All-Southeastern Conference selection in 1978, 1980, and 1981, Cooks solidified his place among the college football elite. His exceptional skills on the field led to his inclusion as a semifinalist for the Lombardi Award in 1981.

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Cooks’ contributions to the Mississippi State football program were further recognized when he was honored as a member of the MSU Ring of Honor.

Former Bulldog quarterback John Bond took to social media to express his heartfelt condolences and pay tribute to his teammate. In a touching message on Twitter, Bond wrote, “Gonna miss ya Big Dawg! You were the best ever! Love ya my Brother!”

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The passing of Johnie Cooks has left a void in the hearts of Mississippi State fans and the broader football community. His remarkable talent, dedication, and impact on the field will forever be remembered, ensuring his legacy as one of Mississippi State’s greatest defensive players endures.