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It comes as no surprise what redshirt freshman Defensive Tackle Bryon Bennett's goals are for the offseason. They are the basic goals for every SEC football player - the pat answer. But Bennett has a different timetable than most. Read about it inside.

Bryon Bennett has the standard stuff going on right now in the Ole Miss offseason.

Bigger, stronger and faster.

But the redshirt freshman from Madison Central, only 18 months removed from high school football, has a little more monkey on his back than most first-year players.

You see, in spring training, Bennett - along with running mate Carlton Martin - surprised everyone and landed on the first team defensive line, side-by-side with Martin at the DT slots.

Most, not all but most, defensive linemen get a little more time to mature, but it appears - based on spring results - that Bennett and Martin will be thrown in the shark tank that is the trenches of the SEC immediately.

Consequently, Bennett is having to take every opportunity to get bigger, stronger and faster to the max.

If things stand as they were at the end of spring, he will be in the starting lineup when the Rebels take on BYU in early September and, frankly, he better be ready.

"It felt good to be playing with the first team defense in spring, especially alongside Carlton," said the articulate Bennett. "We have always competed against each other to try to do better than the other and that has always brought out the best in both of us."

Bryon Bennett
Chuck Rounsaville
Bennett has been in catch-up mode since he hit campus last summer and he's kept his mind in that gear ever since.

"I think the reason I got to first team so quickly is because I've had the mindset ever since I got here that I was behind and needed to do extra to catch up," he explained. "I've been working as hard as I can. At first, I didn't like the redshirt, but as time as worn on, I realized it was best for me.

"It gave me an opportunity to learn and develop more. I learned the plays and I got bigger and stronger, which is what the redshirt year is intended to do."

Bennett came to Ole Miss around 280 pounds, if not a little less. He's now a solid 290 with a goal of "295-300" before the season starts.

"I needed to get bigger and stronger so I could command and control more ground inside and use my speed to get off the line. I didn't want to just pile on weight - I wanted it to be good weight so I could still move and I feel I have accomplished that," he noted. "I have gotten stronger, but every football player will always tell you they could be stronger.

"I'm used to the weight now and my get-off is as good as it was before. I am managing this weight real well right now."

Bennett and Martin basically bull-rushed in high school and they were rarely stopped because their brute strength was too much for most high school OL to handle.

He found out quickly on the SEC level that he has to use more technique than that.

"The little things are so much more important on this level. The lineman's stance, the snap count, the move you are going to use, there are a whole bunch of little things we are taught to give us an edge," Bennett added. "The guys you are facing on this level are just as strong as you are. You don't just run over them. You have to use every tool to gain an advantage."

Bennett feels the pressure of replacing the likes of Jerrell Powe, Ted Laurent and Lawon Scott.

"I think about filling their shoes a lot, but it's more anxiousness than pressure," said Bryon. "I am anxious to get it going and see what I can do. There's a little pressure, but more just ready to get going."

Bennett likes the way the inside players on the DL are shaping up with Martin, Uriah Grant, Corey Gaines, Justin Smith, Gilbert Pena and last, but not least, himself.

"We are going in the right direction. I think we will have a good rotation and we can all contribute something positive," he stated. "I think we have enough bodies where we can all go full speed and when we tire, somebody is there to take the next step and give you a break.

"I think we are athletic and will be able to fly around, hit gaps and make plays. I think we can be disruptive."

Bryon also sees a good chemistry developing on the defensive side of the ball.

"We are investing more emotion into what we are doing. As a unit, we are helping each other more and we are coming together as one," said Bennett. "I think we can accomplish whatever we want to and I think every player on the defense feels the same way and every player is working hard toward that end."

Bigger, stronger and faster are common goals of college athletes.

Not all accomplish those goals, however.

So far, so good for DT Bryon Bennett.

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