Benardrick McKinney has seen his time at Mississippi State come to an end.
The junior linebacker announced on Friday that he will forgo his senior season and enter the National Football League Draft.
“‘I have decided to enter the NFL Draft and look forward to the next chapter,” McKinney said in a school release. “I can’t thank enough my coaches, teammates and the Bulldog fans for the memories we have created over the years. It’s been a privilege to be a part of one of the best teams in school history. Mississippi State has developed me into the player I am today, and I will always be part of the Bulldog family.”
The All-American is ranked as the top inside linebacker prospect in this year’s draft by ESPN’s Mel Kiper. He will attend the NFL Scouting Combine next month in Indianapolis.
“We fully support Benardrick’s decision and know he is ready for the next level,” MSU head coach Dan Mullen said in a statement. “He has been a tremendous leader for our football team both on and off the field. His work ethic and intelligence make him a valuable first-round prospect for any NFL team. We are proud that he has helped raise the standard at Mississippi State.”
The Tunica native led the Bulldogs with 71 tackles this past season as the team rose to No. 1 in the rankings for five weeks for the first time in school history. The 6-foot-5 linebacker also had eight tackles for loss, three sacks, four pass breakups, four passes defended, three fumble recoveries and one forced fumble.
McKinney arrived at MSU as a two-star high school quarterback, but leaves as the first All-American linebacker since 1999.
He joins running back Josh Robinson as Bulldog underclassmen who have declared for the draft. The NFL Draft will be held April 30-May 2 in Chicago.
Quarterback Dak Prescott is expected to announce his decision next week.