Beneventi Sees Illinois Again

Illinois was one of the first to reach out to Benet QB Jack Beneventi with an offer. Now with several in hand, he came back to Illinois for a visit on Saturday

One of the first offers extended to Benet junior signal caller Jack Beneventi came from Illinois, and that's something that will stick with him. He's been to Illinois a couple times before, and he made another trip down on Saturday to watch Illinois take on Cincinnati.

The high school season is an exciting time. And after the turnaround that Benet made last year, the Redwings are hoping to maintain that excitement this year, starting 2-0.

"It's really big for us right now," Beneventi said. "As a freshman we went 1-8 and last year we had a great year. Right now we have to stay hungry and treat it like we went 1-8 last season. We can't take it for granted."

According to Beneventi, the success has been a combination of several factors that all fell into place for them. It's a full team effort.

"Coach New's leadership has been huge for us," Beneventi said. "He gets us motivated and prepared us for the season. The O-Line is outstanding in both pass blocking and run blocking. The running back, especially Porter Ontko, are running hard, the receivers are running crisp routes and getting extra yards. The defense has been huge for us too."

One guy in particular that's helped fuel Beneventi and Benet's success is actually a basketball player. Well, he's a football player, but Sean O'Mara, Benet's left tackle, has made a big difference in the offense's productivity.

"It's huge for me," he said. "Sean is an amazing lineman. He has great wingspan. He's great in pass blocking and run blocking. It's great having that D1 presence there, even if it's for basketball. His leadership is huge for us on offense. I joke with him that the sky's the limit for him in football, but he'll make that decision for himself and he has a bright future in basketball."

Another Redwing that has helped take some of the load off of Jack's back has been running back Porter Ontko. Ontko suffered a knee injury Friday night and they still await the results of the MRI, but what he's done so far has meant a lot for their success.

"Porter has been great," Beneventi said. "Teams sometimes throw us different defenses, so having that balance helps us out in terms of being able to exploit a defense."

In the offseason, Beneventi spent a lot of time working on his physical readiness. His mechanics are far along for his age, but he focused on strength and conditioning.

"This year has been a lot of strength," he said. "I'm trying to improve my strength and weight. I've also improved a lot mentally. I'm getting quicker with my reads and understanding the game as a whole more than I did last year."

But Beneventi's growth has been more than physical. Especially with a quarterback, intangibles are something you just can't put a value on.

"I feel like this year I've been more vocal and showed more leadership by example," he said. "I'm not a big yelling guy, or a rah rah guy. I like to be calm for the offense and set the example that way. I feel a lot more relaxed this year. Having a year under my belt has really helped. And Coach New and my teammates have been so supportive. They've made it very relaxed and I can go out with confidence."

He continued, "My footwork has been a huge improvement. I keep a better base after I would sometimes set my feet wrong. I'm getting that more consistent this season."

In the area of recruiting, Beneventi has seen the offers start to roll in. Illinois was one of the first to reach out to the quarterback with an offer, and since then it's been a few offers and a lot of visits.

"I have offers from Notre Dame, Illinois, Iowa, Western Michigan, Louisville, and UMass right now," Beneventi said. "It's been a lot of fun seeing different scenery, coaching styles and campuses. Every school and coaching staff is different. It's been great to see that variety this summer."

And when it comes to selecting a school in the end, Beneventi will be looking for the full package a well-rounded school that is both academics and athletics.

"Education is huge," Beneventi emphasized. "Also I want to find a spot that's going to fit me best. I want to be surrounded by great kids that I can be friends with and have a coaching staff that will be supportive and take care of you."

Illinois is one of the schools that Beneventi feels provides most of what he's looking for. He likes the direction in which the program is headed.

"It's been great," he said. "Illinois has been great in the recruiting process. Always keeping in touch and building a great relationship with them. I'm very happy about this program and where they're turning toward for the future."

As for other schools that are also gaining traction with Beneventi, a couple recent visits have helped him learn more about the schools on his list.

"I just took a visit to Iowa and absolutely loved it." he said. "Louisville, I really liked. Right now I'm seeing all of these schools and just taking my time right now."

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