Christmas comes early for Bandel

Who says Christmas doesn't come early? <b>Ben Bandel</b> knows from first-hand experience. Something happened to the 6-7, 250-pound TE/DE from Murrietta, California last week that made him think the holiday season had come a little earlier than normal. And it wasn't Jolly 'ol Saint Nick supplying the gift.

Nope, it was Saint Rick, as in Neuheisel.

"He offered a week ago," Bandel told of the good news. "I just went 'Whoa!'. I really didn't know what to say. I was amazed and so happy. My family celebrated afterwards."

Was he amazed enough to commit on the spot? "Kind of, but I know I have to wait and see what other opportunities open up," Ben said. "I have to keep my options open at this point."

There will no doubt be other options that open up for Bandel, who is having an excellent season for Murrietta Valley so far this year. His team is 5-1 and headed to the CIF playoffs, and he's had a big hand in their success, on both sides of the ball.

Their last game against Temescal Canyon is a perfect case in point. Down late in the game, Bandel scored the go-ahead TD for Murrietta Valley with under a minute left and sealed the victory with a sack with only 15 ticks left on the clock.

"I'm the big man on campus this week," Ben said with a big laugh.

So far this season, Bandel has 24 catches for 290 yards and 4 touchdowns in a pro-style offense with 2 receivers.

Was there anything in particular Ben was trying to improve on this season? "Well, I know I'm athletic and have good hands, so the biggest thing I've been working on this year is my blocking, just the little techniques," he said. "Also, the linebackers that play against us have been blitzing more and more, so I've been working on my hot routes. I've been getting a lot of those this year."

Other schools recruiting Bandel include Oregon State, Washington State, Oregon and Arizona. The Huskies are Ben's only offer at this point, and he plans on visiting Washington, Oregon State and Washington State right now. The Cougars have been talking a little bit about offering.

Ben has gotten to know Coach Neuheisel, and he isn't the only coach recruiting him for the Huskies. "Well, Coach Neuheisel was the one that called me up and offered me a scholarship and Bobby Hauck is the main coach recruiting me for Washington," said Bandel.

Apparently the coaches were pretty specific when singing his praises. "They've been telling me that I have good footwork, block well and they liked the way I give 110 percent on every play."

Bandel finished the interview with a comment about the Huskies.

"They are my definite leader right now." Top Stories