Harrisburg (S.D.) linebacker Rich Benenge wanted to be challenged at the next level.
Benenge spent a lot of time going over his FBS football options. Benenge’s top five was Army, Arizona, San Jose State, UNLV and Akron. Army checked off more boxes for Benenge. He announced his commitment to the Black Knights Saturday.
“I want to go somewhere where I have no choice but to elevate myself as a player and person,” Benenge said. “I want to go somewhere where I’m going to get hit in the mouth and beat down so I’m able to grow. Lastly, I want to be somewhere that wants me and has a brotherhood culture like Army.”
Benenge is the first Army commit from South Dakota in recent years (dating back until at least 2006). Linebackers coach Cort Braswell and offensive line coach Matt Drinkall both recruited Benenge, who had 113 tackles, 22 for a loss his senior year.
“Being the first gives me the mindset that now, all eyes are on me,” Benenge said. “So, I have to be the best on and off the field. The bar is set especially going to West Point so I’m just ready for the challenge.”
Benenge said he’s a combination of speed, quickness, power, explosiveness and IQ on the field. He models his game after 49ers linebacker Fred Warner, Vikings linebacker Brian Asamoah and Texans linebacker Christian Harris.
“A lot of them aren’t the biggest linebackers but they are like bullets,” said Benenge, who is 6-foot-2 and 218 pounds.
Benenge built a good connection with Braswell, his potential position coach.
“We joke around and we’re cool but when it’s time to talk business, he gets straight to the point,” Benenge said. “He’s going to tell you what you need to hear not what you want to hear.”
Part of Benenge’s decision is a five-year commitment to active duty following graduation from West Point. Benenge more than accepts the military side.
“The service part, I don’t mind,” Benenge said. “I appreciate the service and giving back and also utilizing it as a career option.”