10/24/2009 – Florida at Mississippi State
Going up against Florida’s talented offensive line, McPhee certainly flashed intriguing potential. He has tremendous size and he knows how to use it. He really knows how to set the edge as his long arms keep blockers at bay; he has the size and strength to consistently dominate at the point of attack. You would expect a guy his size to be an awesome bull-rusher, and he is, but he also brings an impressive inside rip-move that’s very effective. Midway through the 1st quarter he used that counter move and it almost resulted in a sack. Even though it was only his first year playing for Mississippi State, he showed that he has stepped up into a leadership role for that defense. After a 2nd down stop of Tim Tebow at the 1 yard line, you see McPhee demonstratively riling up his teammates, pumping them up to keep the Gators out of the end-zone. It’s encouraging to see that he developed that sense of leadership so early in his Bulldog career. On 3rd down Mississippi State, led by Pernell McPhee’s pressure in the backfield, stood up to the challenge. Tebow faked the hand off and tried to run it in, but he had nowhere to go. McPhee knifed through theline forcing Tebow to change directions, that gave Sean Ferguson and Jamar Chaney a chance to stop Tebow in his tracks for a 2 yard loss. It was a great goal-line stand. For such a big guy it’s surprising to see his pursuit to the football. He doesn’t quit on plays. His pursuit does tend to get him in trouble, though. He had a tough time dealing with Florida’s spread option attack. He got sucked in with play-fakes far too often, leaving rush lanes wide open. Florida exploited McPhee’s aggressiveness quite a bit. It’s fun to watch this guy bull-rush. With Florida threatening again in the red zone, McPhee completely dominated Carl Johnson with a great bull-rush. Johnson got pushed back so deep in the pocket that he basically ended up sacking his own QB. Tebow tripped over Johnson’s feet and he fell to the ground, McPhee was credited with the sack. The very next play really told you all you need to know about McPhee. On 3rd and goal, Tim Tebow was pressured into rushing a throw that was picked off by Jonathan Banks in the end zone. Banks brought it out of the end zone with a convoy blocking for him. Tim Tebow ran the play down and he almost had a play on Banks, but guess who was there to block him? Pernell McPhee. He ran 50 yards down field to make the key block on Tebow that ended up springing Banks for a 102 yard interception return for a TD. It was a great effort. Although they lost, Pernell McPhee proved that he is a big-time player.
- Great size
- Vocal leader
- Good motor
- Average first-step
- Limited experience
- Raw fundamentals
Pernell McPhee’s stats as a senior in high school are straight out of a video game; 75 total tackles, 35 TFLs, 19 Sacks and 12 FFs. The scary thing is, that was his first year playing high school football. With those stats he certainly got noticed and signed on to play for Southern Mississippi. Even though he signed on with Southern Miss, he ended up playing his first 2 seasons of college ball at Itawamba Community College in Fulton, Mississippi. In his 2 seasons at Itawamba CC, he put up some unbelievable numbers yet again; 60.5 TFLs and 33 Sacks. With that kind of production he became one of the most highly coveted JUCO transfers ever. Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Kentucky, Illinois, Michigan, Kansas State and West Virginia all pursued him, but he committed to Mississippi State. Pernell McPhee became one of the best recruits that Mississippi State has ever signed. McPhee is a tremendously gifted young man with sky high potential. By his own admission he was playing mostly on instincts and talent last year. He was more concerned about acclimating himself to big boy football in the SEC then studying gamefilm and working on his fundamentals. Even without solid fundamentals he was able to put up 56 total tackles, 12 TFLs, 5 Sacks and 8 QB Hurries in his first season with the Bulldogs. It seems like this spring he has taken ownership of his responsibilities and it looks like he is ready to start tapping into his potential. He has now bulked up to 285 pounds and from all reports he has become a film-junkie. He wants to be great and he has all of the tools to be a star. His size and strength are just awesome. When he gets his hands on you, there is nothing you can do. His motor is fantastic as well and he relentlessly pursues the football. You also have to appreciate his leadership. Despite it only being his first year playing for the Bulldogs, he asserted himself as a vocal leader on that defense. I expect that to continue this season. He doesn’t have the quickest first step coming off of the edge and it doesn’t seem like he anticipates the snap count all that well either. His size and strength help him compensate, but I hope to see him play faster this season. With only 1 year’s worth of Division I experience, he’s a raw player. His fundamentals are inconsistent and it’s something that he needs to work on. He needs to do a better job of reading his keys and controlling his gap. Too often he will lose his fundamentals because of his over-zealousness to make a play on the football. Pernell McPhee is a dynamic talent that I am excited to watch this season, and it will be interesting to see how he has progressed. If he has a big year, he certainly can make a case to go in the 1st round.