Bennett's hard work pays off

Players that leave school a year or two early to enter the Draft are scrutinized by the media almost as much as they are by the NFL. One player going through that process right now is Texas A&M TE Martellus Bennett and he answered questions earlier this week about his decision to leave as well as his decision to change his number for one game during the season to honor a fallen friend.

When Bennett was a senior in high school, he was heavily recruited by the Miami Hurricanes and the host on his official visit was none other than Kevin Everett, the tight end who was briefly paralyzed in the first game of the season while playing for the Buffalo Bills.

Bennett wanted to honor Everett, so he changed his number from 13 to 85 for the Aggies' game against Louisiana-Monroe as well as their game against the Hurricanes.

"Me and Kevin became close through the process," Bennett noted earlier this week at the NFL Combine. "When I went to Miami for my visit he was there and I've talked him ever since my high school time.

"After the Miami game we had some down time because it was a Thursday night game so I went down the hospital and as soon as I got there he started talking trash because we lost to them. Me and him have always had a good relationship."

Bennett's size (6-6, 259) and speed (4.65), as well as his outstanding athleticism, make him a prospect that will be intriguing for several teams during the lead-up to the NFL Draft, but he said it wasn't a snap-decision to leave school a year early.

"I know a lot of people think I just upped one day and said ‘OK I'm going to the NFL'," Bennett said. "It was a long process and we went about it the right way. I talked to Coach (Dennis Franchione) – me and Coach Fran have a real good relationship and he gave me his output and what he thought.

"Coach (Mike) Sherman helped me out a whole lot through the process and I prayed a lot. It was a family decision. I felt my time at A&M was up and I felt like I couldn't do much more in progressing as a player so I decided to come out."

Because he's such a good athlete, he was a dual-sport star while in College Station, Texas, lettering on the hardcourt as well as the gridiron.

"I would say football is my wife and basketball is my mistress," Bennett quipped when asked which sport was his first love. "The only time I had that thought (of playing basketball instead) was coming out of high school, because I came out for the NBA draft out of high school and I thought if I played one year of basketball in college I could come out again and re-pursue that dream.

"But when I started playing football I fell in love with football again. I played basketball at A&M but I felt that football was my first love and I was just playing basketball. That's why I gave it up."

And it's a good thing for the Aggies that he did.

In 36 career games, Bennett posted 105 receptions for 1,246 yards and 10 touchdowns while being named first team All-Big 12 his sophomore season despite an offensive change that saw his chances to make plays limited during his senior season.

"We won a lot of games while I was there," Bennett said, putting the team goals ahead of his own. "We lost some games, too, but I was always one of the top receivers if not the leading receiver in yards and catches and tied for touchdowns while I was there.

"As long as we were winning games I wasn't one to complain. Also I enjoy blocking a whole lot. That's one of the best parts of the game."

Because Bennett won't turn 21 until March 10th, some have questioned his maturity, so the young man from Alief, Texas is relishing the chance to talk to teams during the interview process, something most players loathe.

"I think a lot of people have questioned my maturity because I'm so young coming out as a junior," Bennett said. "I know a lot of people think I'm goofy – which I am – but I am mature. I think a lot of guys want to see how mature I am.

"I think they all know I can play and I can run so I think it's more a maturity thing. Some people have asked me questions. There has been a lot of stuff they've asked me about just to see how I answer questions and see how I handle myself in a business manner."

Now it's time for Bennett to show off his considerable athletic skills over the next two days on the RCA Dome field and then it will be time to take care of business, wherever that may be.


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