STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) -- Mississippi State linebacker Benardrick McKinney was one of the Southeastern Conference's most productive freshmen last season, providing a ferocious presence in the middle of the defense.
His trick to such quick production: He didn't have to think much. Veteran Cameron Lawrence did a lot of that for him.
But now Lawrence is gone -- off to pursue a career in the NFL. So McKinney and the other young linebackers are ready to prove they can handle the mental side of the game, too.
The 6-foot-5, 235-pound McKinney was second on the team with 102 tackles last year, behind Lawrence's 120.
Defensive coordinator Geoff Collins said McKinney is embracing the mental side of the game during preseason camp, and that should lead to even more production this season.