Centerville’s Bennett Could Fit Right In
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — As Michael Bennett’s arm hit the Turf he heard a crack.
checks into fall camp.
Photo by Jim Davidson
The senior defensive lineman out of Centerville was trying to brace his fall on the floor of the Alamodome, but instead he could no longer feel his left forearm.
The 6-3, 275-pound defensive tackle was having a great showing in the U.S. Army All-American game back in January before being blindsided by a block while attempting to take down West quarterback Bubba Starling.
With Ohio State Defensive Coordinator Jim Heacock by his side Bennett lay on the playing surface for nearly 10 minutes before being taken off. He had broken both bones in his forearm (radius and ulna) and it would require immediate surgery.
“That was a little difficult,” said Bennett, now seven months removed from that life-altering fall in San Antonio.
“I lifted a lot, rehabbed a lot and I can lift with it now. It’s pretty good so I’m hoping I can get a splint for it so that I can go through camp. We’ll see how that goes in camp and then hopefully play with it.”
It was a long road back for Bennett, who was rated as a 4-star prospect by both Rivals.com and Scout.com. He was also a guard for Centerville High School near Dayton, but Ohio State recruited him exclusively for the defensive side of the ball.
“That’s a big thing that I’m looking forward to actually this year,” said Bennett, now a freshman at Ohio State.
“At Centerville I was mainly offense and then I had to play defense, so every game I was just dead tired. This year it will be really nice to just be able to focus on defense and play just defense.”
The Buckeyes brought in four offensive linemen and five defensive linemen—including Bennett—in the class of 2011. The numbers are similar, but the talent on the defensive side would appear to largely outweigh the offensive side (unless of course we’re going by Chris Carter’s weight).
Add in Ohio State’s low recruiting numbers on the offensive line—fueled by near misses on Seantrel Henderson and Aundrey Walker—and it’s easy to see why some fans would like to see Bennett moved to that side of the ball.
The problem with that thinking is that Bennett is simply a much better defensive prospect than he would likely ever be on offense. At Centerville they run a power rushing attack with some option mixed in, and the guards are typically asked to fire straight off the ball.
Elks coach Ron Ullery typically called about 10 passing plays per game while Bennett was at Centerville, which means he would have a lot to learn about pass protection.
Bennett is the type of kid who could do it. He is smart, tough and a quick learner. He could become a decent guard at the collegiate level, but he could be something special on defense.
Before he showed up at Ohio State this summer, one scout compared him to former Buckeye Cam Heyward. It seemed like a reach considering all that Heyward accomplished in four years, but not as much anymore.
Despite wearing a splint on his left forearm, Bennett made in instant impact in his first practice at Ohio State. Although he was working with the third-team defense, he showed an ability to play both defensive tackle and strongside end.
He also showed an ability to go right by those freshmen offensive linemen. Let’s see what day two brings.
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