Orange Bowl

Mississippi State’s Josh Robinson going pro

Georgia Tech quarterback Justin Thomas reaches for the goal line on a 13-yard touchdown run.
Georgia Tech quarterback Justin Thomas reaches for the goal line on a 13-yard touchdown run. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Mississippi State running back Josh Robinson became the first Bulldogs underclassman to announce he is forgoing his senior season to enter the NFL Draft.

Robinson (5-9, 215) made his announcement on Instagram before Wednesday night’s Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium. School officials said prior to the game that Robinson hadn’t informed them of any decision directly.

“Die with memories not dreams,” Robinson wrote under a picture of himself with a headline reading Josh Robinson 2015 NFL Draft candidate. “Last game as a Bulldog.”

Robinson was listed as the 16th-best available running back by NFLDraftScout.com in the Class of 2016, but he was unranked among prospects for this coming May’s draft.

Nicknamed “Bowling Ball” by his teammates, Robinson finished third in the SEC in rushing (1,128 yards, 6.4 average) and earned All-SEC second-team honors.

Robinson had a rough childhood growing up. He was raised by his grandmother until she died when he was 12. He spent his high school years living with friends of the family.

Mississippi State linebacker Benardrick McKinney (24th-best prospect, according to NFLDraftScout.com) and quarterback Dak Prescott (64th) have yet to announce their decisions. McKinney said this week he received a second-round grade from the NFL. Prescott said he was told by the NFL to return to school. Both are expected to announce their intentions after returning home from the game.

INTERNATIONAL ROSTERS

The Yellow Jackets and Bulldogs had 18 Floridians on their roster between them but none from Miami-Dade or Broward counties. Mississippi State defensive tackle John Harris, who attended Boynton Beach High in Palm Beach County, was the player playing closest to home.

Although Wednesday night’s game didn’t have much in the way of hometown flavor, it did feature a trio of international kids: Tech defensive tackles Adam Gotsis (Australia) and Francis Kallon (London) and Bulldogs starting right tackle Justin Senior (Montreal).

Of the three, only Gotsis never played a down of high school or prep football in the United States. The 6-5, 282-pound junior played Australian Rules Football growing up before playing for the Monash University Warriors, a recreational American football team for 18-to-35-year olds in Melbourne.

“One of the coaches played offensive tackle for [Georgia Tech coach Paul] Johnson when he was at Hawaii back in the 1980s,” Gotsis said. “I sent over some film of me running, lifting, just because my playing film wasn’t really worth much.”

Gotsis, an All-ACC second-team selection this season, has found a home. He made his 27th start in a row Wednesday and hopes to become the 10th Australian to play in the NFL once he is done with college.

MISSISSIPPI TREND

After Mississippi State’s Egg Bowl rival Ole Miss took a horned frogging from Texas Christian in the Peach Bowl on Wednesday afternoon, a historic trend should have given the Bulldogs a little better feeling about their chances in the Orange Bowl.

In the seven previous seasons both schools went to bowls, only twice did they have the same result. Both won in 1999 (MSU in the Peach, Ole Miss in the Independence) and 2013 (MSU-Liberty, Ole Miss-Music City). The other five seasons — 1963, 1992, 1998, 2000, 2012 — one school won and the other lost.

And, boy, did Ole Miss lose Wednesday afternoon, 42-3. Until the Bulldogs’ Prescott ran for a touchdown in the second quarter, the state had been outscored 56-6 for the day.

THIS AND THAT

▪ Georgia Tech quarterback Justin Thomas became only the second Yellow Jacket in history to eclipse the 1,000-yard rushing mark. His 13-yard touchdown run with 29 seconds left in the second quarter gave him 1,008 yards on the season. The other Yellow Jacket quarterback to rush for more than 1,000 yards was Josh Nesbitt in 2009.

▪ Prescott became the first Mississippi State player in school history to surpass 4,000 yards of total offense in a single season.

He now has more than 7,000 yards in his career, No.1 on that list. After his two touchdowns in the first half, Prescott had 70 career “touchdowns responsible for.”

Miami Herald sportswriter David J. Neal contributed to this report.

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