TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA/MSU/SEC Athletics) - After posting a career day and helping lead Mississippi State to a 27-14 victory against the Kentucky Wildcats Saturday, Benardrick McKinney was named Co-Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week, the league announced Monday.
McKinney posted a career-high 12 tackles, including 10 solo stops against the Wildcats, while also tallying a tackle for loss and two pass deflections. He helped lead a Bulldog defense that held Kentucky to 20-yards-or-less on nine of their 12 possessions, while also forcing five three-and-outs.
The Tunica, Miss., native leads all SEC freshmen in tackles per game (7.2).
"It's a blessing, I mean God blessed me this week," McKinney told WTVA.com. "I'm playing hard, everybody [is] encouraging me to just go hard."
"You look at him, what he did, Benardrick's a guy, he's a three-down guy for us," said MSU Defensive Coordinator Chris Wilson. "We play him on first and second down as well as third down in our prowler package. That just says a lot about him as a player."
Ole Miss defensive back Cody Prewitt received an honorable mention from the SEC for his performance against Texas A&M. Prewitt had six total tackles, forced two fumbles, recovered a fumble and had an interception in the Rebels' 30-27 loss to the Aggies.
Mississippi State quarterback Tyler Russell also earned an honorable mention. Russell completed 23-of-39 passes for 269 yards and two touchdowns against Kentucky.
You can find the complete list of SEC Players of the Week below.
SEC OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Mike Gillislee (RB - Florida)
• Gillislee rushed for 146 yards on 34 carries and two touchdowns in Florida’s 14-6 win over LSU. Both of his touchdowns came in the second half to help the Gators overcome a 6-0 halftime deficit. Gillislee rushed for 52 yards in the fourth quarter. His 146 yards was the most against LSU since Arkansas’ Knile Davis ran for 152 yards on Nov. 27, 2010. Gillislee is currently the SEC’s leading rusher and has had three 100+ yardage games this season.
SEC Co-DEFENSIVE PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Matt Elam (DB - Florida)
• Elam’s forced fumble late in the fourth quarter against LSU changed the momentum of the game and helped Florida to a 14-6 win over LSU. He also tallied a team-high seven solo tackles with one for a two-yard loss. The Gator defense held LSU to 33 consecutive snaps without a first down.
Kevin Minter (LB - LSU)
• Minter tallied 20 total tackles including a school-record 17 solo stops in the Tigers’ 14-6 loss at Florida. He had three tackles for loss (-17 yards), including two sacks (-16 yards) and a forced fumble. The 20 total tackles is an SEC-best this season.
SEC Co-SPECIAL TEAM PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Ace Sanders (PR - South Carolina)
• Sanders returned a punt 70 yards for a touchdown that gave South Carolina an insurmountable 21-0 advantage en route to a 35-7 win over Georgia. It was Sanders’ second career punt return for a touchdown.
Richard Kent (P - Vanderbilt)
• Kent averaged 45.2 yards on six punts with two inside the Missouri-20 yard line in Vanderbilt’s 19-15 win at Missouri. Facing a Tiger squad that had returned three punts for TDs already this season, Kent enjoyed a net average of 44.9 yards, allowing just one return for three yards by the Tigers.
SEC OFFENSIVE LINEMAN OF THE WEEK
T.J. Johnson (C - South Carolina)
• Johnson graded out at 86 percent against Georgia with seven knockdowns and no quarterback pressures in South Carolina’s 35-7 win against Georgia. The Gamecocks amassed 230 yards rushing and 162 yards passing against the Bulldogs.
SEC DEFENSIVE LINEMAN OF THE WEEK
Trey Flowers (DE - Arkansas)
• Flowers registered 3.5 tackles for loss (all sacks), two quarterback pressures and five tackles (all career highs) in Arkansas’ 24-7 win at Auburn. His sack total is the highest single-game total in the SEC this season and tied for fourth in NCAA FBS this season.
SEC Co-FRESHMEN OF THE WEEK
Benardrick McKinney (LB - Mississippi State)
• McKinney posted a career-best 12 total tackles with 10 solo stops in Mississippi State’s 27-14 win at Kentucky. He also tallied a tackle for loss and two pass deflections. He helped a Bulldog defense that held nine of 12 Kentucky possessions to 20-yards-or-less and forced five three-and-outs.
Johnny Manziel (QB - Texas A&M)
• Manziel rushed for 129 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown while completing 17-of-26 passes for 191 yards with another score and 2 INTs in Texas A&M’s 30-27 win at Ole Miss. Manziel engineered two scoring drives in final half of 4th quarter to put the Aggies in the win column.