In Interview Setting, Bennett Shines

Ohio State defensive tackle Michael Bennett put on a show in the interview room at the NFL Combine.

The NFL combine offers a chance for the best college players in the country to show what they’ve got in a number of areas, from the 40-yard dash and bench press to the psychological tests administered in meetings with teams.

For Ohio State product Michael Bennett, though, the combine offered him a chance to show off his superiority in another place – the interview room. Considered throughout his Ohio State career to be one of the better quotes on the team, Bennett was his trademark blend of entertaining and thoughtful as he stood behind the podium donning a sweatshirt and toting a backpack.

The defensive tackle impressed reporters so thoroughly that NFL.com named him one of four “winners” out of the two dozen defensive players who hit the interview room on Saturday.

Bennett’s interview took its typical course, with the Centreville native dishing out his thoughts on a wide range of topics. In nearly every instance, he showed off a candor often beat out of pro prospects through interview coaching.

On his decision to cut back on his Twitter usage: “I know that sometimes my mind will take me to weird places so I don’t want to mess around and throw out a tweet where they’ll be like, “What were you thinking here?” I don’t know. So I just kind of slowed it down. I’ll make a random observation and my mind will go off on a tangent and then I’ll throw out a tweet and I’ll be like, that was probably pretty weird to people who don’t know me so I don’t do that anymore. Some of my followers don’t like that, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. I haven’t put out any risky tweets. My mom follows me so I’m not going to do anything stupid. I still don’t want to be perceived as a weirdo.”

On Ohio State’s 59-0 win against Wisconsin: “I think that was just the right storm. A lot of emotions with Kosta (Karageorge), with that news breaking, and us being tired of all the doubt. A perfect storm was finally able to show people what we could do. Their O-line was very big, but I think we showed people it’s not just about how big and strong you are. We’re big and strong, too. We’re fast, we’re quick we’re technically sound. That was probably my most technically sound game.”

On a perceived SEC bias in the media: “Obviously, we proved that we were better than that team but the media really hypes up some stuff about teams. One person will see Alabama is better and then the media runs to it and it’s just going to track on Alabama. If you legitimately watched the film, people would think we’re better than them. So it was a confidence that people didn’t expect us to have, but we had that confidence. It wasn’t even ‘Silence the doubters.’ It was, ‘We know we’re better than this team. Just go out and prove it.’”

On his ability to enjoy the national championship while also preparing for the draft: “I’m enjoying it in little segments. Like every now and then I’ll think back and be like, ‘Holy crap. That’s what we did.’ I wish I was still in Columbus to be able to enjoy those segments with my teammates. But life doesn’t stop, for good or bad. You’ve got to learn how to enjoy it. you’ve got to learn how to take it in the moment and just keep getting better and moving forward. It’s unfortunate, but I’d much rather have something that I have to prepare for than just live on that.”

Bennett also addressed a number of football-related topics. He noted that he felt most comfortable playing 3 technique and said he’d bet on having more of an immediate impact if drafted by a team that could utilize him there.

He did a double take when a reporter suggested that he looked tired against Oregon but explained that he played through a groin pull in that game. Bennett chose Alabama guard Arie Kouandjio as the best offensive lineman that he faced in his career.

He saved one of his best comments for last, though. Bennett, perceived to be a borderline first-round draft pick, said he would settle for being drafted at all when asked about expectations for where he’d be picked.

“I’m going to expect to go seventh round and anything above that, I’m going to be thrilled with,” he said with a slight smile. “I’m not going to expect to go first round and go second round and be disappointed. To accomplish my dream of going in the draft is going to be phenomenal. Whatever round I go in, doesn’t matter. Whatever team I go to, it’s going to be the same thing, work my ass off, get better every day and take a leadership position.”

His draft position will likely be affected at least in some part by his performance in the combine drills Sunday, but in an interview one day earlier Bennett showed he’s without peer in that department.


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