ORLANDO, FL (WLBT) - A Mississippi State record four Bulldogs were selected to the 2019 Pro Bowl, which will be played Sunday at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. The game will kick off at 2 p.m. CT on ESPN and culminate a week of practices and events.
MSU’s trio of linebacker Benardrick McKinney (Houston Texans), defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (Philadelphia Eagles) and cornerback Darius Slay (Detriot Lions) earned Pro Bowl selections on Dec. 18, 2018, when the initial rosters were revealed. Dak Prescott was named to the NFC Pro Bowl roster last Monday to replace New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees. The Pro Bowl selection is the second in Prescott’s three-year career.
McKinney, in his first Pro Bowl appearance, will take the field for the AFC team, while Slay will suit up for the NFC squad. It marks Slay’s second straight Pro Bowl nod. Cox will not play due to a foot injury.
This is the third straight year and the fourth time in program history that MSU has produced multiple Pro Bowl selections in a season.
Cox: Another dominant season earned Cox his fourth straight Pro Bowl selection. An Associated Press first-team All-Pro selection, Cox racked up 10.5 sacks and 15 tackles for loss during the regular season and helped lead the Eagles to an appearance in the divisional round of the playoffs. According to Pro Football Focus, he finished the regular season with a 92.6 overall grade (No. 2 among interior defenders) and 95 total pressures (No. 2 among all defenders).
Cox was a 2011 first-team All-SEC selection at State, recording 14.5 tackles for loss and five sacks in his final season before being selected 12th overall in the 2012 NFL Draft by the Eagles.
Slay: In his sixth NFL season, Slay totaled 42 tackles, defended 17 passes and collected three interceptions, including one he returned for a touchdown. Slay has produced 91 pass defenses since entering the NFL in 2013, the most pass defenses by a player over the last six seasons. Since becoming a full-time starter in the 2014 season, Slay has recorded 17 interceptions, tied for the second-most by a cornerback during that span. He is the first Lions player to go to back-to-back Pro Bowls since Calvin Johnson went to six straight from 2010 to 2015 and the third Detroit cornerback to make the Pro Bowl in back-to-back years in the Super Bowl era, joining Lem Barney and Dre Bly.
Slay played two seasons for the Bulldogs, amassing 64 tackles and six interceptions from 2011-12. The Brunswick, Georgia, native led the SEC in interceptions in 2012 with five.
McKinney: This season, McKinney tied for the Texans lead with 105 total tackles (63 solo) to go along with 1.5 sacks, one interception, five tackles for loss, five quarterback hits, one forced fumble and a single-season career-high seven passes defensed. McKinney is the first Texans player with at least 100 tackles, one interception and 1.0 sack in a season since Brian Cushing in 2011. In the Wild Card game vs. Indianapolis, McKinney led the team with nine total tackles (five solo) and matched a postseason single-game career high in total tackles (2015 Wild Card vs. Kansas City).
One of the all-time great linebackers in MSU history, McKinney saw action in three seasons before foregoing his senior year for the NFL Draft. He was a two-star high school quarterback who finished his career as a first-team All-America linebacker. McKinney played in 39 games with 36 starts with most of those coming at middle linebacker and racked up 244 tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks and seven pass breakups.
Prescott: A nominee for the 2018 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, Prescott finished the 2018 season with 3,885 yards passing, 305 yards rushing and 28 total touchdowns. He completed 67 percent of his passes and ranked second to Brees with five game-winning drives on the year. Prescott led Dallas to a 24-22 win over Seattle in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. He completed 66.7 percent of his passes for 226 yards with a touchdown and an interception for an 83.6 passer rating. On the ground, he finished with 29 rushing yards on six carries with the game-clinching score. In Dallas’ 30-22 loss to Los Angeles a week later in the divisional round, Prescott passed for 266 yards and posted a 99.2 passer rating. He found the end zone both through the air and on the ground. His rushing TD gave him two for the postseason, the most by any Cowboys quarterback in franchise history during the playoffs.
The owner of two academic degrees from MSU, Prescott is also the school’s most decorated player having shattered 38 school records and leading the Bulldogs to their first No. 1 national ranking.