If we did a power ranking of true freshmen that Husker fans can’t wait to see in action, offensive tackle Bryce Benhart would be toward the top of the list. The excitement level in the fan base is high for the former state champion wrestler who enrolled over the summer.
It is not easy making the transition from high school to college football. It’s especially difficult in the trenches as Benhart found out first hand during fall camp.
“Coming from high school, there is nothing like fall camp every day,” Benhart said earlier this week.” You are grinding every day. One day off every five or six days. When you have Matt Farniok helping you out, he’s been a lot of help. Same for the other guys. They are helping out studying all the plays. Coach G (offense line coach Greg Austin) and all those guys. Coach V (senior offensive analyst Frank Verducci) and Demeo (assistant quality control) are helping me with getting the plays right and watching film.”
Every freshman (even the 6-foot-8, 310-pound ones) gets a “welcome to college football” moment. It hit Benhart literally and figuratively during his very first practice as a Husker.
“I thought, ‘Yeah, its football here and it’s no joke.’ You are going all the time,” Benhart explained. “Going from Minnesota high school football to college, its faster. People are just faster. I’m not the biggest one out there. I might be the tallest but not the strongest. There are just faster and bigger defensive lineman. Guys like Darrion Daniels, those guys are just ginormous. In high school I never saw a guy that big before and had to block him.”
Benhart got his first game action of the season on Saturday. He joined the fray against Northern Illinois when Coach Scott Frost sent the second unit in. He said that he had some nerves when he first went out on the field but that they faded away after the first snap.
Austin was proud of how Benhart handled his business on the field.
“[Your] first time going in as a true freshman, there are jitters and nerves,” Austin said on Wednesday. “He kept calm and did his job. There’s one play he wants back. But nevertheless, he did a pretty damn good job of stepping in there are as a true freshman. He knew what to do and how to do it. He was one of the big reasons we scored on that one quarterback run. I was proud of the way he came in there. He kept a level head. He acted like he was supposed to be there.”
Benhart is still growing both in size and as a player. He said that the coaches have told him he could carry up to 340 pounds but it all depends on how agile he can remain. That’s a scary notion for him yet exciting at the same time. As a player there is one big area that he’s improved in since arriving in Lincoln.
“From being in high school, I’d say my footwork by a lot,” Benhart said. “Footwork and leverage. In high school to tell you the truth you just run them over. You don’t focus on your footwork as much. In college, you have to take the right angles to meet the guys at the right spot. I’d say footwork a lot.”
We don’t yet know if the plan is to redshirt Benhart this season or not. That probably depends on his growth as a player and the players in front of him. Yet, the lineman is prepared for whatever the coaches decide.
Doing what's best for the team 💪 pic.twitter.com/nC3BR5PZQT
— Hail Varsity (@HailVarsity) September 16, 2019
Greg is the Recruiting Analyst for Hail Varsity and has covered Husker athletics since 2013. He has always had a passion for sports while growing up in the Chicago area. As he got older and had to hang up his cleats and sneakers, he realized his passion for sports went beyond just watching and attending games. He has covered many events from the Rose Bowl to championship boxing matches. If he’s not talking sports, he’s hovering over his grill. He is married to an amazing woman, Kim, and they have a dog that barks when Greg yells at the TV during games.