Beneventi Hoping to Bounce Back

Momentum is a huge factor when it comes to the playoffs, and Benet QB Jack Beneventi knows that after 3 losses to end the season, he needs to lead the charge in bouncing back. He talks about the playoffs and where Illinois stands in his recruitment.

It's never easy being in a slump. Jack Beneventi and Benet started the season 6-0, but their past three games have been frustrating. Now with playoffs in front of them, they have to bounce back and overcome the drought.

"It's been tough the last three games but we have to take this as a way to face adversity," Beneventi said. "We went 6-0 playing great teams, and these last three teams are also great teams. It's a test for us in unity, it's a test in character."

Beneventi couldn't pinpoint any one specific reason for their skid, but he's doing his best to stay positive heading into postseason play.

"Really it's hard to tell. We're a team and we all support each other," he said. "But it happens. It happens in the NFL, it happens in college, and we need to prove to ourselves that we can bounce back from this and succeed."

The solution isn't anything technical or something that's really fixed by watching film. Beneventi thinks that it's as simple as playing as one the rest of the way out.

"We really want to focus on coming together," he said. "We need that to be even stronger, especially after those three losses."

As far as skill progression, Beneventi has made noticeable improvements to his play this year. And working with a quarterback coach has helped him grow more rapidly.

"I've really improved my footwork. My footwork, speed, and decision making have come a long way.," he said. "Also, I think my release is quicker. I've been working on that. Really for me, it's all about the team, though. It's been tremendous (working with a quarterback coach). I've been working with him since seventh grade. Just the footwork I need, decision making skills. And he's been a great mentor to me."

The junior signal caller does what he has to to get his guys lined up for the next play, but he isn't the guy in the center of the huddle pre-game. Instead, Beneventi chooses to lead by example.

"Right now I'm just trying to stay positive. I'm not a loud "rah rah" guy," he said. "I feel like if I can show that I'm focused and intense that they'll see that and it will help the team. I feel like all of us are coming together and sometimes the guys are looking your way and sometimes I feel like I need to do something, but it's not all on one person's shoulders."

Beneventi has been on the road quite a bit seeing several schools, including Illinois and Notre Dame, but with playoffs just around the corner combined with his team's challenges ahead of them, he admits that his team will take priority and that he'll give them his all until their playoff run concludes.

"I'm planning on taking a visit to Iowa, but I haven't scheduled anything yet," he said. "Recruiting is a big thing, but right now I want to make sure I stay focused on my team. I'm going to be taking visits but I don't want to let that get in the way of my team."

Beneventi has mentioned June as a potential decision timeframe, but that isn't set in stone, and he admitted that the decision could come sooner than that.

"Really I feel like decision-wise it could be anywhere between the end of the season and June at the latest," he said, "but I feel like it could be earlier now."

One of the strongest contenders for Beneventi's commitment is Illinois. Under new offensive coordinator Bill Cubit, the Illinois offense has a new identity and has been one of the bright spots for the Illini this year. Speaking with Beneventi, it's very clear that Coach Cubit and Illinois have built a solid foundation and have made Beneventi a priority in the 2015 class.

"The coaches are what I'm looking for," he said. "No one is standoffish. I feel a sense of family. They all live by each other and it's like a family. Coach Cubit is the coach I want to play for. The offense he runs and the relationship we've built has been special. I just feel comfortable there. It's really a good fit team-wise."

Recently, Beneventi has also been hearing a lot from 2014 Illinois commit Mike Dudek. Ever since Dudek committed to Illinois, he's been one of the Illini's best recruiters in the Chicago area. But Beneventi and Dudek have known each other long before Dudek's commitment, and Beneventi is a huge fan of Dudek's playmaking ability.

"The thing about Mikey is that I've always known about him," he said. "I mean he's a year older than me but I've seen all of his highlight films and to finally talk to him it's all coming together. And he's going to Illinois, and that's huge because I haven't seen a player that electrifying. I saw him play against Waubonsie and what he does is just special."

Beneventi also has a close relationship with several other top 2015 prospects in the state of Illinois, specifically Miles Boykin, Flynn Nagel, and Dre Brown. Though "package deals" are rare, the idea of all four attending the same school isn't out of the question by any means, and Illinois is one school that is heavily involved with all four.

"It's definitely been in discussion," Beneventi said. "Miles and I have become very close friends and I've hung out with Flynn many times as well. I talk to Dre a lot too. There's been some talk about everyone going to the same school and staying in state and that would be very special. In the end I think everyone knows that each person has to make their own decision, though."

Along those same lines, it wouldn't be a big statement just because a bunch of close friends who are highly-rated would be playing college ball together, but it could also set a new trend for in-state recruits.

"With Miles having offers from places like Michigan State and Ole Miss and Dre having his offers too, I think it would be big saying, you know, we need to stay in our state," Beneventi said. "I think it would send a message to everyone else and be huge for the program at Illinois."

Illini Inquirer Top Stories