This week, Bennie Coney received a surprise visit that will be a special memory for him for the rest of his life. The star quarterback for the Plant City Raiders was honored at practice with an official invite to play in the Army All-American Bowl held every year in Texas. The invite is a great reward and reflection of the hard work done by Coney in his camp circuits. It also an indicator of how far he has come as a player from last year.
"I was ecstatic when the representative of came to practice and read me the official invite," Coney said. "My family has been especially excited for me too and they are already talking about saving up to make the trip to Texas and watch me play."
Coney was not shy to share that this invite is a real dream come true for him. He has always had the goal of showing that he is the type of talented player that deserves the recognition the award brings.
"This really is a dream come true for me. Growing up and playing football, this was always a goal…to receive an invite and be an All-American."
There has been a lot of hard work done by Coney over the past months. He has been all over the state participating in camps and combines, which he believes has really helped get him this honor.
"I have been going to a lot of camps and working hard…always coming out on top as a top performer at my position. I have been working really hard to improve myself for my senior year and I definitely think all those camps helped show off my abilities and get this invite."
With an All-American invite, there may also be added pressure to perform. Coney understands that and welcomes the challenge.
"I definitely feel I have to work even harder now," said Coney. "You always got to work hard no matter what, but I am an All-American so people will be watching me to see if I can be a leader and perform at that level."
Coney explained how he really wants to have a great senior season, put up great numbers, and be the leader he needs to be by helping Plant City win a state title.
As for the recruiting scene, it is as busy as always. Coney still claims that his original Top 4 of Florida State, LSU, Michigan, and Notre Dame are correct, but Notre Dame and Michigan have not been in contact as much as they were. There are also two additional teams entering the picture that have been showing a lot of interest.
"I have been getting a lot of interest from Cincinnati lately. They were down here recently to see me and said they will be back to watch our spring game vs. Armwood. South Florida has been showing a lot of interest too. I think those two teams have moved up and I am looking at a Top 6 instead of a Top 4."
The two new suitors both have some draw for Coney that really excites him.
"USF is close to home and they have a great QB situation," explained Coney. "I feel it is someplace I can go and compete to be a 4 year starter. It is also great to be close to home so all my family can watch me. I like Cincinnati a lot too. It is not close, but they have a great offense that I feel I would do really well in."
Coney also shared how he is not as worried about playing in a pro style anymore, but just focused on finding a school where he fits in the offense.
"I just want to play somewhere that allows me to throw a lot, and where I can still show off my mobility and athleticism running the ball."
With spring football underway, Coney shared he is looking forward to their spring game vs. Armwood and hopefully getting revenge for last year.
"Last year we got blown out by them, but we were really fatigued. The coaches are spending a lot of time focusing on conditioning this season so we will be ready. It is gonna be a great game with all the talent they have and all the talent we have. If we can beat them, we will show we are a team to beat."
When summer rolls around, Coney will get back into recruiting mode. He has trips planned to camps at South Florida, Miami, Georgia, and Clemson. The Clemson camp is the one Coney is really looking forward to.
"It is a great school and I like the way they play. The team there has a lot of swagger. I have really been hoping to get some interest from them and get an offer, so this will give me a chance to go throw there and show them what I can do."
Expectations are high now, and the next half of the year will be busy and exciting times for Bennie Coney and the Plant City Raiders.