PDT Sports Writer
When Matt Bennett was forced into the hospital for an infection with two games left in his senior season, thoughts of never representing West High School on the gridiron turned into a sad reality.
That was until an e-mail he received Nov. 29 changed his fortunes. Bennett will be participating in the Schuman’s National Upperclassmen All-American Game Dec. 22 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
“I was rather excited,” Bennett said when it came to receiving the letter to play. “…It’s nice to get to play again before college.”
He will be one of eight players from the state of Ohio to participate in the weeklong festivities that lead up to Saturday’s game. Of the eight, he is one of five to be playing on the North squad.
The 6-foot, 250-pound defensive lineman — a three-year starter at nose guard with 52 tackles, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries during his senior year — has interest from school such as Akron, Ball State and Dayton and is considering studying engineering. The journey starts Sunday as he and his family will drive to Myrtle Beach and check-in Monday. Another check-in will take place Tuesday as a picture day, walk-through, meetings and dinner prepare Bennett and the rest of the participants for the rest of the week and Saturday’s contest.
This is not the first time that Bennett has participated in an event in association with the NUC and the National Collegiate Souting Association. In March, he took part in the five-star junior showcase.
During that time, Bennett said he received a lot of instruction from the coaches who were present. He also mentioned a number of NFL players were on hand during the event.
The NUC has showcased players such as Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden, Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd, South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore, Southern California receiver Robert Woods and Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray to name a few. With former teammates Trevon Pendleton and Levi Ratliff at Michigan State and Ohio State respectively, Bennett hopes to keep the recent trend of Senators playing in major college football.
“It makes me feel good,” Bennett said. “It brings more attention to this part of the county.”
The game will be available on YouTube and local area affiliates. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Cody Leist can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 294, or firstname.lastname@example.org.