Florida Linebacker Jeremy Benjamin Has WVU Connection - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Florida Linebacker Jeremy Benjamin Has WVU Connection

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MORGANTOWN -

Jeremy Benjamin gets a glimpse of Mountaineer Field just about everyday at McArthur High School.

Andrew Rhoden, who served as a graduate assistant for the West Virginia University football team in the 2006 season, coaches the 6-foot-2, 225-pound junior linebacker. When he began coaching at McArthur, he brought with him a photo of the stadium in which he was a part of six wins with the Mountaineers.

"Everybody in Morgantown looks out for everybody," Rhoden says. "I loved my time there and the players all stuck together. I've seen other programs, been to other programs and I've never seen that kind of environment. But I've told him [Benjamin] I'm not going to push him there just because I went there."

Benjamin says he has spoken with Rhoden about WVU, but he knows the team has gone through major changes in coaching and personnel in the years since. Still, whatever he has heard, whether from Rhoden or his recruiting coach, Robert Gillespie, he likes what he knows of Morgantown and the program that resides there.

Benjamin, a three-star athlete according to Rivals.com, has his picks narrowed down to a top two at this point, but the Mountaineers are the only one of those to have offered. He is hoping that when Florida State coaches come to his spring game on May 26 they will not leave without extending an offer.

Either Gillespie or another WVU coach will also be on hand and he looks forward to the opportunity to show any interested parties what he is capable live and in person rather than just on film.

"I just want to show them that I haven't fallen off since last year, I've actually gotten better with my speed, my quickness and reading plays," says Benjamin. "The way I play the game brings a lot of energy to everyone around me. I'm a very animated person, I guess you could call it, when I'm on the field."

Rhoden believes anyone who gets a look at Benjamin will come away impressed in much the same way he has been since he has been coaching the rising senior.

"He can jump a fence without touching it," says Rhoden. "He's just a stunning athlete."

To prove his point, Rhoden brings up a former West Virginia linebacker who was a freshman in the 2006 season. J.T. Thomas, recently selected by the Chicago Bears in the NFL Draft, is a player Rhoden often hears has real speed off the ball, but he compares the two as high school athletes in this way:

"They're night and day when you see Jeremy come off the ball," he says.

It is a ringing endorsement for Benjamin, who hopes to continue showing college coaches that what Rhoden says about him is accurate. He routinely runs a 4.5 40-yard dash and works to make himself a viable option at both the linebacker and safety positions.

In fact, he feels that he translates well to what the Mountaineers hope to do with the star linebacker spot and says that his team, like WVU, is switching away from a 3-3-5 stack defense this season. His transition in the coming year should help him in year one at whatever school he ultimate chooses as he becomes familiar with multiple schemes.

The question now, as he begins to look ahead to camps and visits this summer, is what will make WVU or Florida State come out on top?

"What's really going to be my ultimate decision is where I feel comfortable and where will be the best choice for me to be successful playing college ball and if I'm lucky, I'll go to the pros," he says.

Rhoden believes Benjamin will feel those things about West Virginia when he takes his visit, but the decision will be his to make. If he needs any help with information on the Mountaineers or Morgantown in general, there is no shortage of sources willing to provide it.

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