Mississippi State linebacker Benardrick McKinney's long-asserted plan to enter the 2015 NFL Draft apparently hasn't wavered.
After leading the Bulldogs defense to an Orange Bowl berth as one of the elite linebackers in the SEC, the junior is now considered "a lock" to declare for the draft, according to Yahoo Sports.
McKinney (6-foot-5, 250 pounds) is a massive presence as a middle linebacker who excels in stopping the run. He led MSU in tackles (61) and fumble recoveries (three) while making eight tackles for loss and three sacks in 2014. The Bulldogs will face Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl in Miami, where McKinney will battle a triple-option offense.
Nearly a year ago, when McKinney announced he would return to MSU after an outstanding season as a third-year sophomore, McKinney indicated he hoped 2014 would be his last in college. He reiterated that at SEC Media Days, then went on to earn first-team All-SEC honors by a vote of the league's coaches. NFL Media analyst Charles Davis included McKinney on a list of 10 underclassmen who would be wise to return to college, making reference to his primary reputation as a run-stopper.
Running back Josh Robinson and quarterback Dak Prescott are among other Bulldogs underclassmen considering entering the draft.