For the past three years, Rosa Fort (Miss.) native Benardrick McKinney rarely left the field on Friday nights. The 2011 Mississippi State signee played quarterback, linebacker and was also the team's punter.
Recruited as a linebacker, McKinney accounted for 2,030 yards of total offense and 23 touchdowns last year, and totaled 70 tackles, two sacks, two interceptions and five tackles for loss.
So no doubt taking his game to the next level will present a different scene for McKinney - on and off the field.
"I've been thinking about it a lot and it's going to be a different type of experience," said McKinney. "It will be different leaving my hometown to play college football. It will be a challenge but something I will succeed at because I love to compete. I will have to learn to be around new people and managing my time will be a top priority."
On the field, McKinney joked that he will have to fight off the urge to still play on both sides of the ball.
"Mississippi State is still saying I will be at linebacker and I will play wherever they need me to play and wherever I help the team the most," said McKinney. "I love offense but I will also love playing linebacker for the Bulldogs. And I will be giving 110 percent wherever I play. It will be different, though. When I see our offense out there, I will probably want to run out there and help us make a big play (laughing)."
Since he played his final high school game, which was in the Class 4A playoffs, McKinney moved on to another sport and has also been preparing for those soon-to-be workouts with his new Bulldog teammates.
"I ran track this spring and it went alright," said the 6-foot-4 McKinney. "But mostly I just stayed in the weight room and working hard and I am at 216 pounds now. I have just been following that workout book I got from the Mississippi State coaches. It was tough at first but I got used to it pretty quick. Every day I do those drills in the book and work on the things the coaches want me to do."
McKinney has also worked dilligently in the class room to make sure his academic qualifications are in order. Depending on his final grades, McKinney said he plans to arrive in Starkville later this month.
"I just have to keep my grades up with A's and B's," said McKinney. "I had A's and B's last semester and if I do that again or have even higher grades I will be fine. I have a 16 on my ACT so if my gpa is high enough then I may not have to take the ACT again in June. If everything goes well, then I will be good to get to Mississippi State on May 31st, and I can't wait for that day."