Gopher Commits Duane Bennett Breaks Records

O'Fallon High senior running back Duane Bennett, who recently committed to Minnesota, is having an outstanding season. Bennett became the school's all-time leading rusher earlier this season and has rushed for 1,180 yards on 173 carries with 20 touchdowns this season. He also became the team's all-time leader in touchdowns.

Duane Bennett has lead O'Fallon to a 5-3 mark and they are 4-2 in the Southwestern Conference. Bennett rushed 31 times for 197 yards and two touchdowns in their 23-20 loss to Alton last Friday and had 21 carries for 128 yards with a three-yard touchdown run in a 24-7 win the previous week versus Granite City.


"This is a big deal for Duane to reach this milestone, he's worked very hard for it," O'Fallon coach Todd Moeller told the Belleville News-Democrat earlier this year. "Any time you can set a record at a school that's had traditionally good running backs, that's saying a lot. He's in a special class."


Moeller said that Bennett's versatility makes him a special player.


"I think it's his ability to run with different styles. He can pick up tough yards and be very physical, he can be elusive. His change of speed is so instinctive, those are the kinds of things you really can't teach. I definitely think he's in the top echelon of running backs to be considered in any classification. He has to be in any of those conversations. His work ethic is tremendous in the weight room, on the practice field and in the games. He's got a very strong understanding of the game of football. He can be elusive, he can be physical ... he's just a tremendous running back. The Gophers are lucky to get him. He wanted to go somewhere where they have a running back tradition."


Bennett ran for 993 yards and 12 touchdowns last season despite sitting out much of two games with an injury. He returned for the final three games, but was not at 100%.


Bennett ran for more than 1,000 yards as a sophomore in his first year at O'Fallon after transferring from McCluer High in St. Louis.


Bennett will join former Edwardsville running back E.J. Jones, a freshman at Minnesota. They are part of a growing St. Louis contingent that includes sophomore defensive end Steve Davis (McCluer North), freshman defensive end Willie Dyson (Kirkwood) and freshman defensive lineman Robert McField (Normandy).


Former Minnesota All-American and St. Louis native Laurence Maroney is enjoying a strong rookie season at running back with the New England Patriots.


Bennett counts Jones, Dyson and McField among his friends and they played a big role in his commitment to the Gophers

"Mainly it was because I felt comfortable around the players and around that atmosphere, it was my home away from home," Bennett said. "I knew a lot of the players. They came from where I come from and I figured I could hang out with them and learn the ropes from them. When it came down to it, I just felt comfortable at Minnesota."


Missouri finished second behind Minnesota in Bennett's recruitment.


"They've got a good program going for them and a great coaching staff. I talked to a lot of people I know there and I felt that it would have been too close to home. I wanted to get away and get that college experience, not that I couldn't have gotten that at Missouri."

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