CUTigers.com continues our countdown to kickoff series by taking a look at offensive lineman Nathan Bennett. Bennett entrenched himself as the starter at right guard this spring, but what's in store for the redshirt freshman this fall?
Nathan Bennett is turning out to be one of the hidden gems from the 2002 recruiting class after it was announced that he will be the starter at right guard headed into fall practice. Bennett was an all-region selection as a senior All-Paulding County as a junior and senior. He chose Clemson over East Carolina, Mississippi State and Arkansas.
Bennett redshirted his freshman year but quickly moved up the depth chart this spring at right guard. After it was announced that rising senior Jermyn Chester would give up football after tearing a knee ligament, it became crystal clear that Bennett would likely claim a spot on the first team.
Bennett, along with Dustin and Roman Fry are three redshirt freshman that will all see significant playing this fall on the offensive line. "Those guys have kind of pulled away from the others," said Tommy Bowden this spring. "They'll have the chance to compete for a starting job."
Bennett was one of the most impressive linemen on the field this spring and much that credit has to go to his work ethic in the weight room where he's now up to a bench press of over 430 pounds. He can also put up 225 pounds a very impressive 26 times.
When reviewing the events that occurred last season, head coach Tommy Bowden admitted that he probably should put Bennett and one of Fry boys on the field, instead sitting them out with a redshirt. "That would have given us a lot more flexibility to possibly make some moves," Bowden said this spring.
Bennett's main competition on the line this year will come from redshirt sophomore Chip Myrick. Myrick was penciled in as the starter before the start of spring ball before Bennett started to assert himself on the practice fields. While Myrick will likely see significant playing time, Bennett has the clear advantage simply because he weighs in at over 300 pounds, while Myrick is closer to 275.
Simply put, Nathan Bennett looked great this spring. Whenever Yusef Kelly, Duane Coleman, or Reggie Merriweather went over the right side of the line, Bennett was there leading the charge. In addition, his development on the line will only be helped by the fact that the blocking schemes have been simplified and that the Tigers will start to use the huddle again in 2003. Mark it down right now- the offensive line will be vastly improved this year with the addition of Nathan Bennett and the Fry boys.