|Spruce Derden/USA TODAY Sports|
|Linebacker Deontae Skinner is leading Mississippi State in tackles this season with 19.|
Coaches don't get overly emotional often, but Mississippi State defensive coordinator Geoff Collins has been around linebacker Deontae Skinner too long not to, and Collins can't recall a player who has come farther. Collins said Wednesday he was at risk for getting "choked up" in just talking about Skinner's career progress.
He's playing favorites, and he doesn't care who knows it.
"Deontae Skinner is the heart and soul of what he we do here at Mississippi State," Collins said, according to cdispatch.com. "He is the most favorite player that I've ever coached in my entire career."
The 6-foot-2, 250-pound inside linebacker has been a stalwart for the Bulldogs, leading the team in tackles with 19. Already, he has a sack, an interception and a pass deflection, as well. During NFL.com Draft 365's August visit with the MSU coaching staff during fall camp, when asked about the Bulldogs' top players on the defensive side of the ball, Skinner was the first player Collins mentioned.
He's not considered among the nation's elite NFL prospects at linebacker, but he has been projected as a possible mid- to late-round draft pick next spring. Skinner certainly has the size the NFL looks for in a linebacker, and according to Collins, he's got the leadership skills to go with it.
"From the time I've got here to where he is right now, you're talking about an unbelievable human being and a high character player for us in this program," Collins said.
Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.