After enrolling at Mississippi State as one of the nation's most highly sought after JUCO players, McPhee had an immediate impact on the Bulldog's defensive line, starting all 12 games. During the season the Pahokee, Fla. native tallied 56 tackles, a team leading 12 QB hurries, five sacks, four pass deflections, a forced fumble and twice earned SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week honors.
After his 2009 All-SEC season, McPhee came into his senior year with a lot more attention being paid to him, and it showed. For a large part of his senior season McPhee struggled with double teams and was not able to get to the quarterback with the same effectiveness as the season before. The emergence of defensive tackles Fletcher Cox and Josh Boyd soon led to McPhee seeing one on one situations again, and for the last third of the season he showed the same pass rushing abilities he demonstrated in the prior year. Pernell finished his senior year with All-SEC honors after totaling 9.5 TFL and 12 QB hurries.
Pernell had a mixed week in Mobile. In the first couple of practices he showed an inability to find the football and tended to struggle with his leverage. McPhee struggled at times to even keep his feet when he attempted to take the edge against top tackles. However, later in the week he did flash some explosiveness coming out of his stance on first contact and showed strong awareness with good instincts. During the game he did a great job of keeping separation from the blocker and relied on his quickness and solid technique to make plays against both the run and pass.
Overall, McPhee has good quickness off the ball and a great football IQ. His top speed is good, although not great, and his lateral agility is exceptional for a player his size. Technique is an area where he needs to improve. He got by on mostly natural ability and instincts in his two years of FBS football. His long arms help him keep defenders away from his body and at times he can display a dominant bull rush. For McPhee the talent to be great in the NFL is there, but he needs to go to a team where he can develop over a period of time. With a good showing at the combine he can probably raise his stock to the late 2nd round but is more likely a 3rd round selection to a team with some aging defensive ends like the New Orleans Saints.
Francis Wright is the Scout.com recruiting intern for the state of Mississippi.