Hyattsville (Md.) Dematha Catholic linebacker JaWhaun Bentley is nearing the end of his senior season. On a team full of talented division one prospects, Bentley has tried to separate himself as one of the primary leaders on a team chasing a title.
"Lately I've been working on trying to be a better leader," Bentley said. "A better leader so I can lead this team to a championship. Me and a few other guys on the team, we're trying to get us ready for this run to the championship this year. Trying to put this on our shoulders."
Dematha head coach Elijah Brooks believes Bentley's efforts have paid dividends.
"As a player, number one, he's probably the best leader that I've ever coached," Brooks said. "He lets his play speak for itself. He just does a great job at showing guys the right way to do things. From a competitive standpoint, he's fearless and he's a heck of a player."
In addition to working on his leadership skills, Bentley is preparing himself for life at the next level.
"I think I'm in a pretty good place right now," Bentley said. "I work hard all the time. My effort will definitely get me where I want to be. I've been working on sideline to sideline running.
"That's what all good linebackers do, is play sideline to sideline. Playing better in pass coverage and working on sure tackling all the time. Making sure I make the tackle when we need the tackle made."
"Purdue has come into the picture," Bentley said. "I'm taking an official there December 7th. Purdue and Syracuse have jumped out right now. I haven't scheduled the Syracuse official yet. Not quite. I'm going to do that after the season."
Despite not scheduling his official to Syracuse, the three star linebacker remains in constant contact with the Orange.
"I talk to the Syracuse coaches a lot," Bentley said. "I call them probably every other day. They like to keep in touch to see where I'm at. We talk about the games that are coming up, all of the things we're planning on doing, things like that.
"They like to keep in touch with me. I talk to all of them. The defensive coaches. You can't just single one of them out because they all talk to me."
With both the Orange and Boiler Makers, the future of each program is something that is appealing to the 6-foot-2 linebacker.
"Syracuse, I feel like they're on the rise," Bentley said. "I feel like I see something there that's definitely moving forward. It would definitely play a big role with me, like I can be a player there. A high motor player there. I could make a difference."
"Purdue is another team on the rise. They have a new coach. He just got there and I definitely see some good things Purdue that I like."
With Syracuse, Bentley likes what he sees from the way the Orange use their linebackers. He believes he would fit right into that aggressive style.
"Yes that's definitely something I like about Syracuse," Bentley said. "They like to play around with linebackers and I'm willing to play around and do what I need to do."
With both programs standing out, what will separate the two down the stretch of his recruitment?
"It's a combination of relationships with the coaches and defensive system," Bentley said. "Both have defenses that I love. I love the effort plays that they make and I love what they preach to their players. It's about making the plays in the crunch time. Making the fourth down stop. Things like that. I love that."
Regardless of where he ends up, coach Brooks believes that program is getting a special player.
"He's the type of player that, and I've told every college coach this, I don't know if he's going to be a linebacker or stick his hand in the dirt at the next level," Brooks said. "I just know he's going to be successful. Wherever he goes, I'm 100 percent positive he's going to be successful. It speaks a lot about his character, his worth ethic and the type of kid he is."