Mississippi State linebacker Benardrick McKinney will return to play for the Bulldogs in 2014 and pass on the NFL draft, but for a player with two years of college eligibility remaining, McKinney had an interesting choice of words in his announcement, published to YouTube by MSU athletics.
"I just want to let everyone know I'm staying one more year," McKinney said. The third-year sophomore, presumably then, doesn't figure to stay around for 2015 when he would be a senior. And it's little wonder why he would expect to be regarded as NFL-ready as a fourth-year junior, having developed into one of the best young defensive players in the SEC. McKinney led MSU in tackles (71), tackles for loss (seven), sacks (3.5) and fumble recoveries (two) in 2013, anchoring the heart of the defense at middle linebacker along with senior NFL prospect Deontae Skinner.
The loss of McKinney would have been a significant blow to the Bulldogs' defense.
With his return, he will be a strong candidate for preseason All-SEC honors along with two other underclassmen who decided not to turn pro -- Tennessee's A.J. Johnson and Georgia's Ramik Wilson.
Wednesday is the deadline for college underclassmen to declare for the draft. Those who declare then have a three-day window in which they can change their minds without losing their NCAA eligibility.
McKinney, however, sounds sure enough a full year from next year's deadline.