Focus 2011: Ben Ahler

With four days until September 1, the first day college coaches can extend an official scholarship offer to high school juniors, Badger Nation profiles four junior athletes that have garnered some early Wisconsin interest. Doing a bit of everything for Rensselaer Central (Ind.) High, Ben Ahler is a solid athlete.

MADISON – There are few things Ben Ahler can not do on the football field.

Attending small Rensselaer Central (Ind.) High School, Ahler is called upon to play mike linebacker, running back, punt and return kicks, even going so far as to play quarterbacks during the sectional tournament his freshman season.

Even with all the responsibilities, Ahler responds to the challenge every game – finishing his sophomore season with 114 tackles and rushing for 1,000+ yards and 14 touchdowns.

"Not bad for my sophomore year," Ahler said coyly. "I was all over the place."

As good as he is on the field, it's the stuff he does off the field, more specifically in the weight room, that makes Ahler turn heads.

Fresh out of his 8th grade year, Ahler ran a 4.76 40-yard dash at a camp in Michigan and lifted 225-lbs 22 times, more than almost every senior in attendance, a two-time winner of the Strong Man Award at the Michigan camp, holds the Indiana state bench press record for his age group by lifting 400-lbs and rarely misses a day working in the weight room or running the stairs at the stadium.

"One thing our coach talks about is just being an athlete, because an athlete plays all around and knows what it takes to get the job done," Ahler said. "On the football field, playing a bunch of different positions, I think that helps you overall. I consider myself a smart player of the game, because I try to know just about everyone's job on every player. That way, you are familiar with everyone is supposed to be. If I can be strong and smart, I'd put myself in a good situation."

A man that is a self-motivator, Ahler came to Chicago's Scout Combine with something to prove, that a athlete from a small school can compete against kids from the metro Chicago and Detroit areas.

"I wanted to show my lateral movement and prove upon the stuff that I had been working on," he said. "Being a sophomore, I really have to prove myself and get ready for the summer. I just want to prove that I can play with the big kids from the inner city."

At 5-foot-10, 216 pounds, Ahler showed he has potential, turning in a short shuttle time of 4.62, a 3-cone time of 7.72 and a broad jump of 7-10. Moreover, Ahler showed that his speed is improving, as he was able to keep pace during 7-on-7 drills against kids in the 2010 class.

"I am going to work on my speed because if you can run, you can play," he said. "That's the main thing I am trying to focus on this year. I want to start putting up some more (bench) reps on the 225 (pounds) and work on my lateral movement. As a linebacker, you really need to follow the ball."

Although he has yet to receive a verbal scholarship offer, Ahler will certainly see interest in him pick up some after on September 1, the first day colleges can offer a junior prospect. So far, Ahler has visited Indiana, Michigan and Western Michigan and gotten mail from Iowa, Northwestern and Wisconsin.

"My goal is to play linebacker on a Big Ten team," Ahler said. "I would like to eventually look into going to Indiana. My uncle played at IU and my dad went there. I would like to stay in state rather than going out of state, but I definitely want to look at all my options though."

For Ahler, the Hoosiers are the early school to beat. Being a die-hard Hoosier fan since I was young, Ahler has been a big fan of how Coach Lynch and his staff have tried to elevate the program since taking over two years ago.

"He's on his way," Ahler said of Lynch. "He's a little bit better this year after all the young kids got some time. I think he's the man for the job. I got to all the games and you can see progress with that program and Coach Lynch has done a good job in starting to turn around the football program."

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