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Benardrick McKinney officially declares for the 2015 NFL Draft

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The junior inside linebacker is a projected first round draft choice for this spring's NFL Draft.

Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

After an initial Yahoo! report yesterday hinted that it was coming, today the highly expected news became official: MSU MLB Benardrick McKinney has declared for the 2015 NFL Draft.

The news was expected by everyone who has watched McKinney dominate offenses throughout this season.  The junior even flirted with the NFL last year following a redshirt sophomore campaign, but he returned for what ended up as one final season, amassing 71 tackles and eight tackles for loss en route to an All-American season.  He is a pretty safe bet to be selected in the first round of the upcoming draft.

McKinney may be as good a testament as there is to Dan Mullen's ability to develop small town, relatively unknown Mississippi prospects.  Benardrick came into Mississippi State in 2011 as a two-star, lanky QB recruit from Rosa Fort School in Tunica.  He left much a much more physical specimen: 6'5" 249 lbs.  You can teach a lot of things in football, but you can't teach size.  And thanks to a weight program and an opportunity from Dan Mullen, Benardrick will head to the NFL fully prepared to be a first round middle linebacker.

I will certainly miss seeing him in maroon and white next season, but I wish Benardrick all the best at the next level.  Hail State, big guy.