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Breaking down all of Emmanuel Forbes' pick-sixes

Mississippi State cornerback Emmanuel Forbes (13) during an NCAA football game on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Starkville, Miss. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)
Mississippi State cornerback Emmanuel Forbes (13) during an NCAA football game on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Starkville, Miss. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)

Here's one thing we know about Emmanuel Forbes: he knows how to get in the end zone. 

By the time Forbes had wrapped up his college career at Mississippi State, there was no active player in the FBS who was better than him at getting defensive touchdowns. Six of his 14 career interceptions -- he was the active FBS leader in that category, too -- were returned for scores, breaking a record that was shared by three players.  

It's that kind of dynamic playmaking ability head coach Ron Rivera wanted to inject into the Washington Commanders' defense. 

"This young man fit the bill, and he did it at a very high level," Rivera said. "He did it in the SEC which is just a notch below the NFL. He played against some big-time receivers, big-time quarterbacks. So, this is a guy that fits the bill for us, and we think it's gonna come in and help us and help elevate our defense." 

So, let's take a look back at all six of Forbes' touchdowns.

Oct. 17, 2020, vs. Texas A&M 

Forbes' first pick came three games into his freshman season, and it was memorable in more ways than one. 

The play came on third-and-6 in the third quarter against the Aggies at the Bulldogs' 32-yard line. No. 11 Texas A&M had a 14-0 lead against the unranked Bulldogs, who were in need of a momentum boost. They got exactly that on the Aggies' opening drive of the second half, as Kellen Mond's pass was deflected 13 yards back towards the quarterback. 

Forbes was blitzing Mond on the play. He didn't get the sack, but he was in the right spot to grab the deflected pass and use his 4.35 speed to distance himself from the pursuing Aggies players.  

The 60-yard return was the Bulldogs' best highlight in the 28-14 defeat, but it was a sign that Forbes had a bright future ahead of him.

Dec. 19, 2020, vs. Missouri

Forbes' next interception did not come until the end of the 2020 season. This time, it helped the Bulldogs put a game out of reach.

Mississippi State was in the middle of ending a disappointing season on a high note, holding a 44-25 lead over Missouri. The Tigers were desperate, so quarterback Connor Bazelak forced a pass to a receiver in triple coverage.

The play was an easy one to make for Forbes, who was tracking Bazelak's eyes from the moment the ball was snapped. Despite having multiple Tigers around him, Forbes was able to slip past tacklers down the sideline for the 29-yard return to the end zone.

The interception made the score 51-25, and with 5:28 left in the game, there was no way for Missouri to come back from such a deficit.

Dec. 31, 2020, vs. Tulsa

Forbes didn't have to wait another two months for his next turnover. This one came against Tulsa during the Armed Forces Bowl, and there is a legitimate argument that Mississippi State wouldn't have secured the 28-26 victory without him.

Mississippi State was clinging to a 14-13 lead in the third quarter, but the 6-2 Hurricane had just crossed into Bulldogs territory with a 12-yard pass to Malik Rodgers. On the next play, quarterback Zach Smith aired it out near the Bulldogs' 10-yard line, and Forbes was there to grab the pass himself and maneuver his way 90 yards to the end zone.

There was some confusion after Forbes had jogged into the end zone, though; the Bulldogs had been penalized for an illegal block below the waist. Mississippi State still got the ball, but the drive would start 15 yards back from where the foul had taken place.

There was a problem: Mississippi State had not actually committed a penalty on the play. The foul had come from a Tulsa player, who tried to get in the way of a Mississippi State player on the field. The foul was then switched to Tulsa, and Forbes' touchdown was reinstated.

The score gave Mississippi State a 21-13 lead, and while Tulsa did pull within two points of tying things up with 1:23 left in the fourth quarter, it was not enough to prevent Mississippi State from securing the bowl victory.

Oct. 1, 2022, vs. Texas A&M

Forbes grabbed three interceptions during his sophomore season, but none of them resulted in touchdowns. His next didn't come until Mississippi State's home matchup against Texas A&M during his junior year in what was ultimately a blowout win against the Bulldogs' first ranked opponent of the year.

Mississippi State had the game in hand with a 35-17 lead late in the fourth quarter. Forbes had already managed to pick off quarterback Haynes King, wiping away the Aggies' drive before it could gain momentum.

King tried to target Forbes again on the Aggies' ensuing drive, and once again, he paid for it. The pass was slightly off-target, allowing Forbes to knock the ball loose when he collided with the receiver. The ball looked like it was about to fall out of bounds, but Forbes snagged it with one hand, kept his feet in bounds and ran down the sideline to give the Aggies a 42-17 lead.

At that point, any hopes of a comeback from Texas A&M were put to bed.

Oct. 15, 2022, vs. Kentucky

Forbes' fifth pick six, which tied the FBS record, is perhaps the one people are most familiar with.

Kentucky was looking to eliminate any chance of Mississippi State fighting back from a 20-10 lead. With less than nine minutes left to play, the Wildcats elected to stay on the field for a fourth-and-2 conversion at the Bulldogs' 32-yard line.

The play was a screen intended for wide receiver Chauncey Magwood, and as the ball was snapped, it appeared that he had enough blockers in front of him to move the chains. Forbes, however, was not fooled, and as Will Levis let his pass fly, he jumped the route and ran unopposed for the 59-yard score.

It was an impressive moment that caught the eye of Commanders senior director of player personnel Eric Stokes when watching film on Forbes.

"Anyone that's seen that interception on the Kentucky game will tell you that that is a rare, special play," Stokes said. "You can watch game after game after game and not see something like that."

Nov. 19, 2022, vs. ETSU

It seemed fitting that the final interception of Forbes' college career -- the one that gave him the record for most pick-sixes in FBS history -- was almost as wild as his first.

There was no doubt that the Bulldogs were going to secure a win over ETSU. They already had a 21-0 lead over the Southern Conference school in the second quarter, but Forbes' play put the game away before halftime.

On second-and-9, quarterback Tyler Riddell's pass could not be secured and bounced in the air. Forbes, who was the closest defender on the play, secured the ball with ease, and after spinning away from a would-be tackler, there was a clear path for him to run 82 yards for the score.

"I saw the ball in the air, picked it, and I was like, 'I can't get tackled. I gotta go score," Forbes said after the 56-7 win.

Once it was clear that Forbes had broken both the FBS and SEC record, Forbes was put on the jumbotron for fans to show their appreciation for all his accomplishments.

"It was very exciting, just being able to break the record for this school and [the fans] a good time."

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