JERICK McKINNONTailback/Quarterback/Strong Safety
Georgia Southern University Eagles
Sprayberry High School
There is a verse in the John Fogerty song, Centerfield, that perfectly fits the way that McKinnon's college career has evolved – "put me in coach, I'm ready to play." Much like former teammate, J.J. Wilcox, McKinnon has been a highly versatile performer for the Eagles. He was originally recruited as a cornerback, handling special team chores before being used as a quarterback during the 2010 campaign. He played in GSU's triple-option attack from the quarterbacking position through his junior season, but was utilized more often as a tailback during his senior season.
Thanks to his exceptional athletic ability, McKinnon constantly warranted double-team coverage from opposing defenses, as he would often align anywhere in the backfield, whether taking direct snaps from center, handling the shotgun or even lining wide as a receiver. While he was not afforded the chance to return kicks much during his college career, with his blazing speed and impressive power, he could serve in that capacity while trying to refine his rushing skills at the next level.
At Sprayberry High School, McKinnon was an Atlanta Journal-Constitution first-team All-State pick at quarterback. He was also tabbed first-team All-State the by Georgia Sports Writers Association as an athlete and named Region VII AAAA Player of the Year. He lettered four times on the gridiron for the Yellow Jackets, starting in each of his final three seasons.
McKinnon threw for 1,500 yards and ran for 1,300 as a senior, picking up Cobb County Touchdown Club Quarterback of the Year honors in 2009. He was a member of the team that won the region championship as a junior and played as a wide receiver en route to earning MVP accolades for the National Underclassmen Ultimate 100.
Away from the gridiron, McKinnon lettered twice for the Yellow Jackets track and field team, competing in the 100-meter dash (season-bests of 11.05 as a junior, capturing the Region VII-AAAA title and 11.48 as a senior), 200-meter (22.61 in 2010; 24.36 in 2009) and in the long jump (second at the 2010 Region VII finals at 20'-9") for the outdoor squad. He was also a member of the 4X100 relay team.
Arriving at Georgia Southern for the 2010 season, McKinnon appeared in 10 games, as he completed 3-of-9 passes for 24 yards. He finished third on the team with 495 yards on 109 carries (4.54 ypc), finding the end zone three times as a true freshman. In 2011, he started seven of the thirteen games he appeared in, again ranking third on the squad with 537 yards on 80 carries (6.71 ypc) that included seven touchdowns. In brief action as a wide receiver, he made six catches for 127 yards and a score.
McKinnon received All-American and All-Southern Conference recognition as a junior, starting all fourteen contests for the Eagles. He paced the squad and ranked second in the league while finishing seventh nationally with 269 attempts for 1,817 yards (6.75 ypc) and twenty touchdowns. He ranked 16th in the nation with an average of 8.71 points per game and accounted for 1,832 all-purpose yards, in addition to hitting on a career-high 20-of-49 tosses for 597 yards and seven touchdowns.
The team captain was a jack-of-all-trades for the Eagles as a senior, operation as an option quarterback, slotback, fullback and from the A-back position on the way to gaining 1,050 yards with 12 touchdowns on 161 carries (6.52 ypc). He connected on 8-of-17 throws for 171 yards and four scores, adding 23 yards on three receptions and 33 yards on three kickoff returns while starting nine contests.
Invited to play in the 2014 Senior Bowl, McKinnon not only impressed scouts in attendance during practices in Mobile, but he would later open more than a few eyes with one of the best overall performances by any participant at the NFL Scouting Combine in recent memory. The 209-pound back recorded 32 reps in the 225-pound bench press, the best figure for any running back and one of the best among the 335 players participating in the event. He then clocked 4.41 in the 40-yard dash, best for all running backs and tied for 10th-best overall.
Only four players at the NFL Combine topped McKinnon's 40.5-inch vertical jump. His three-cone drill mark of 6.83 seconds and short-shuttle clocking of 4.12 were also some of the best marks in the running back group. While he impressed all with his quickness, his performance demonstrating his fluid change-of-direction agility was a pleasant surprise.
McKinnon enjoyed a stellar 47-game career at Georgia Southern, starting 31 contests while lining up as a quarterback, slot receiver, A-back, fullback and even as a cornerback…Recorded 3,899 yards with 42 touchdowns on 619 carries (6.30 ypc) and caught 10 passes for 165 yards and a score…Completed 38-of-41 passes (41.98%) for 929 yards, 12 touchdowns and five interceptions…Gained 74 yards on four kickoff returns and 4,138 all-purpose yards, an average of 88.04 yards per game…Gained at least 100 yards rushing in 11 games…Also recorded five tackles (4 solos) with a pair of pass deflections, two interceptions and two quarterback pressures…
Dave-Te' Thomas has more than 40 years of experience scouting for the NFL. With the NFL Draft Report, Thomas handles a staff that evaluates and tests college players before the draft and prepares the NFL's official Draft Packet, which is distributed to all 32 teams prior to the draft. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.