January 31, 2011

EXCLUSIVE: Bennett says yes to the Black Knights

Miles Bennett took his official visit to West Point two weeks ago, and he didn't want to rush into his decision.

The running back saved that moment for Sunday morning, when he made his phone call from home in Tampa. "It's a big relief,'' he confirmed Sunday night after giving his verbal commitment to enroll in the U.S. Military Academy Prep School this summer. "It was nothing in particular. I just had to let it all set in after I went on my visit. I just decided it would be the best place for me.''

Although his personal statistics aren't staggering (109 carries, 529 yards, 7 touchdowns), he instead points to his team's numbers.

This past season Jesuit High School won 11 straight games before losing in the second round of the states. As a junior his team went 9-2. "I don't know my yards off the top of my head, but I know we won games,'' he said. "That's what it's all about for me. I love to win.''

He was won over by assistant coach Capt. Clarence Holmes, who recruited Bennett. "He really helped me out a lot,'' Bennett said.

"Army's a different kind of school. It's not just the commitment to play football the next four or five years, but committing yourself to more than that. Football won't be the main brotherhood. It's way bigger than that.

"There are those people who want to do those things, who want to serve and I feel like we need those people. And I guess I'm one of them.''

The 5-foot-11, 205 running back does his best work off-tackle but who can also bust it up the middle. He runs a 4.47 40, and although he played only on offense as a senior, he previously had played cornerback, and returned punts and kickoffs.

"I like to go downhill with the ball,'' he offered. "I might change when I get to college because there will be kids bigger than me, but you'll never see me being a little shifty. I give a little move here and there and try to get the home run, but I primarily like to go off-tackle.

"There's nothing really like carrying the ball,'' he said with enthusiasm. "It's so much fun. The best is when it's fourth and one. Everybody knows who's going to get the ball and everybody knows you're back there and you're going to get the ball. It's a great feeling.''

A sprinter on the track team, it was a great feeling when he set a school record in the 100-meter dash. The record was held by Corey Anderson, a standout receiver at Army who graduated from West Point in 2008.

Jesuit is not a stranger to producing high-level athletes, with alumni that include NFL kicker Jay Feely and former pro baseball players Lou Piniella and Dave Magadan.

Bennett placed fourth in the state 100-meter event a year ago, displaying speed that the Black Knights will obviously welcome.

"I saw them on TV against Navy and SMU,'' he said about the Army football team. "Gosh sakes, they let Navy get them every year. But they had a winning season this year.

"The one thing about Army's schedule is - they play everybody. They'll play the Big East, the SEC, the ACC, Pac-10, they don't care. They'll play 'em all. That's one cool thing about Army.''

Obviously for Miles Bennett there is a whole lot more.

Bennett, who spent his junior year playing behind is just coming into his own as a running back. His year at the prep school will allow the maturation of his running skills to reach the next plateau.

GoBlackKnights.com welcomes Miles as the newest member of the recruiting class of 2011.

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