March 16, 2012

Bennett Talks MT Signing

After losing two wide receiver commitments in the final hours before Signing Day, the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders hit the trail again in search for a playmaker. With help desperately needed in the department, the Blue Raiders struck gold when they landed 3-star wide receiver Jacob Bennett recently.

The 19-year old JUCO transfer has had a long and unusual path to becoming a Blue Raider.

Bennett was a high school standout at Klein Collins (TX) after moving from Alabama when he was 17. His playmaking ability had several schools including Missouri, Nebraska, Baylor, Kansas State and Ole Miss offering him football scholarships. Due to academic issues, however, Jacob didn't have the necessary test scores to attend a Division 1 program. Bennett opted to graduate high school early and enroll at Blinn College (TX).

"I lost focus my ninth grade year," Bennett said. "I put myself off schedule and had to work hard to catch up my grades. I fell just short of the academic requirements so I decided to look at some junior colleges. After doing some research, I decided on Blinn."

Blinn College is a four-time NJCAA national champion in football; including 2009 when Cam Newton led the Buccaneers to the title before moving on to becoming a Heisman Trophy winner at Auburn and the top overall pick in the NFL draft. Last season, Blinn finished with a 9-1 record. Bennett played a major role for the Bucs, hauling in 35 receptions for over 300 yards and 6 touchdowns for a team stacked with talent. He was named Offensive MVP of the Mississippi Bowl, which included a highlight reel 45-yard touchdown reception.

"I really learned a lot playing at Blinn," Bennett said. "We played in front of small crowds but it didn't bother me. Junior College is what you make of it. After high school I didn't even know if I'd play football again. God gave me a chance and I did my best to make the most of it."

Bennett learned of MTSU after seeing the New Orleans Bowl victory in 2009. One of the defensive coaches at Blinn had also mentioned to Bennett that Murfreesboro may be a good fit. Jacob was familiar with the area after watching his cousin Earl Bennett play at Vanderbilt and so he decided to look into becoming a Blue Raider.

"Earl told me that I should look into going to Middle Tennessee," Bennett said. "He really liked living in the greater Nashville area while he was at Vandy and said I would like it too. Coach Browning at Blinn told me some information about the school as well. My grandmother had been saying she wanted to move to Tennessee long before I even thought about coming to Middle. All of that played a big role into my decision."

While Bennett was looking at Middle, the Blue Raider coaching staff had its eye on Jacob as well. Head Coach Rick Stockstill had seen some highlight tape of Bennett and began the recruiting process.

Middle Tennessee had stiff competition from Houston, Louisiana Tech, and Texas Tech but phone call from Stockstill to Bennett sealed the deal.

"Coach Stock was so confident and honest with me," Bennett said. "He said they needed a playmaker and a hard worker. He said he was expecting big things from this team and he wanted me to be a part of it. I knew right then that this was the place for me."

Given his ability to stretch the field and make big plays, the Blue Raiders will look to Bennett to contribute right away this upcoming season after losing talented receivers Malcolm Beyah and Sancho McDonald to graduation.

Stay tuned in to the front page as Bennett will be an upcoming participant in our newest feature - "Meet the New Boys in Blue."

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