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Mississippi State redshirt freshman defensive end Johnathan McKenzie has left the Bulldogs football team effective immediately.
State officials confirmed to the Starkville Daily News late Friday evening that the former Starkville Academy star has left the program to concentrate on academics.
Mullen and the rest of the coaching staff were informed Friday that the 6-foot-6, 265-pound defensive pass rusher would not be suiting up any longer for the Bulldogs and that included tonightâ€™s contest against Georgia (6 p.m., Fox Sports Net).
After redshirting his first season on the Starkville campus, McKenzie was given the honor of starting in his first ever college football game during the 2010 season opener against Memphis.
"I was really proud because I know how hard he's worked," said Johnathan's father Duncan, who a former Mississippi State football lettermen from 1974-77 and is currently an associate athletic director at the university. "He's a much more talented athlete and student than I was. It's a tough job being a college football player. All of those guys work so hard."
In the first three games of the 2010 season, Johnathan McKenzie has accounted for four total tackles and one for loss.
He was one of the stateâ€™s best 40 high school prospects out of Starkville Academy according to numerous scouting services and decided to sign with State in December 2008.
Most local fans might recognize McKenzie as the all-state selection in football and basketball for the Volunteers program while maintaining a perfect 4.0 grade point average throughout his prep career.
McKenzie was currently listed on the MSU depth chart as the backup defensive end behind All-Southeastern Conference selection Pernell McPhee. This announcement leaves the Bulldogs with just six scholarship defensive ends (McPhee, Sean Ferguson, Nick Bell, Kaleb Eulls, Corvell Harrison-Gay and Trevor Stigers) for the rest of the 2010 season.