Orange Bowl Q&A with Benardrick McKinney

Benardrick McKinneyMississippi State junior linebacker Benardrick McKinney fielded questions from the media on Monday in advance of the Bulldogs appearance in the Orange Bowl. The following is a transcript of what McKinney had to say…

Q. Coach (Dan Mullen) seems like he likes to have fun. Have you seen that? Was that something that

attracted you to Mississippi State?

BENARDRICK MCKINNEY: Yeah, Coach Mullen, he’s a good coach. He’s serious when it’s time to be serious. He plays when it’s time to play during practice. He jokes with us, but he knows when it’s time to work. When we’re having fun, he has fun with us like a good coach.

Q. What kind of things does he do to loosen things up, give you guys a break?

BENARDRICK MCKINNEY: Sometimes he just cracks jokes, like I was saying, at the beach yesterday he was smiling with us, playing with us, giving us the idea to have fun. Like I say, he’s a good coach. Very fun.

Q. Is he the kind of coach — I was just telling Preston Smith over there, the Jets were in here yesterday and they talked about how much they enjoy playing for Rex Ryan. Is that the kind of feeling you have for him?

BENARDRICK MCKINNEY: Yeah, he pushes us to the best of our ability. We come here a two-star linebacker, a two-star athlete, he pushes me to be the best I am. I wouldn’t be in the position I am. He pushes everybody to the best of their ability, to be the best players.

Q. Were you a two-star recruit?

BENARDRICK MCKINNEY: Yeah.

Q. Were you really?

BENARDRICK MCKINNEY: Yeah.

Q. You’ve come a long way.

BENARDRICK MCKINNEY: Yeah, a long way, long way.

Q. How much of that is coaching?

BENARDRICK MCKINNEY: That has a lot to do with coaching. Guys like Coach, me coming in, they pushed me and told me I had to be the leader of the defense when I was a freshman. That’s a big role, a big step, me being a freshman and a two-star athlete, how I’m going to be a leader of the defense, but they pushed it and enforced it on me every day, every day in workouts, every day in practice, and they put me in the right position to make big plays.

Q. How many years have you been a starter?

BENARDRICK MCKINNEY: Since I was a redshirt freshman.

Q. How has Nick Fitzgerald done as the scout team quarterback?

BENARDRICK MCKINNEY: He’s a great quarterback. He played in high school. He’s been giving us a good — he’s been giving us a good look at practice. He’s been giving the offensive line, the running backs, great looks, so he’s been preparing us to play the game.

I have covered Mississippi State in some capacity since 2004 and joined the Daily Journal staff in 2013. I enjoy short walks on the beach, performing concerts in my car and watching professional wrestling.

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