Benardrick McKinney's Dream Season

Mississippi State junior linebacker Benardrick McKinney talks about this season, being selected to play in the Orange Bowl and possibility of moving on to the NFL.

It has been a dream season for the Mississippi State football team. It started with the team being unranked, then ranked number 1 for five straight weeks, now they are ranked number 7th in the College Football Playoff ranking and headed to the Orange Bowl.

But don't count McKinney as one of those folks who have been surprised about what has happened this year.

"During the off-season, we got together and said that we were going to be that team this year," said the All-SEC performer. "And I think we did that for the most part. We are not satisfied because of the games that we lost but I still think we did had a pretty good season."

It will end at the Orange Bowl in Miami, something that McKinney is happy about.

"It is a great honor to be going to (the Orange Bowl) in Miami," he said. "I have never been to Miami. I'm sure it is going to be a great experience. We are going to have fun but the goal is to come back with the win."

Once the Orange Bowl game is over, McKinney has a career decision to make. Projected as a potential first-round draft pick in the upcoming National Football League draft, he will have to decide if it is time to move on to the NFL or stay at Mississippi State for one more season.

"I would like to go in the first round, because that is my dream, going in the first round," said McKinney. "But if I end up leaving in the second round, then God did it for a reason. He put me in the situation."

His family and coaches will help him make the decision.

"I am going to talk to my family (and) the coaches after the bowl game and see what is best for me," said McKinney. "It's really my decision. If it is better for me to leave, then I will leave. If not, then I will be at State again."

McKinney gives a lot of credit to his position coach for putting him in this position where he is considered one of the elite linebackers in college this season.

"Coach (Geoff) Collins developed me into a great linebacker," said McKinney. "He put me in the right places my entire career to make plays that I was supposed to make. He has also pushed me to be a leader.

"He is a great coach. He is like a daddy figure to all of us."

He also gives credit to Mississippi State for giving him his chance to play in the SEC.

"Mississippi State gave me a chance to play in the SEC when other schools didn't even offer (me a scholarship)," said McKinney. "Mississippi State gave me the opportunity to be in the position that I am now in."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the website, the source for Mississippi State sports on sports network. You can contact him by emailing

Gene's Page Top Stories