Saturday, September 8, 2012
Benjamin shows off dynamic skill set
By David M. Hale
Kelvin Benjamin knew the ball was coming his way and he knew he would be open. Sure enough, Jacob Coker found Benjamin in the end zone as he leaped over his defender and came down with the pass.
The only problem, however, was that Benjamin was called for illegal motion.
"I got a little anxious," he said.
No matter, fellow receiver Rodney Smith thought. Smith turned to a teammate after referees negated the play and predicted the next throw would go right back to Benjamin.
"Never a doubt," Smith said.
As it turned out, the penalty only managed to add a small degree of difficulty for Benjamin, who quickly hauled in a 19-yard touchdown pass -- the final touchdown in a 55-0 win over Savannah State.
It was Benjamin's second touchdown of the day -- and of his career -- and perhaps the start of bigger things to come.
"That's how he's been practicing, and he's earned the opportunity," coach Jimbo Fisher said. "He's in shape, he's coming on in practice, he's running, his top-end speed is as fast as any receiver we've got."
Benjamin's speed was on display early, running an end around in the first quarter that gained 16 yards. In the second quarter, a shovel pass from Clint Trickett provided the same effect, with Benjamin gaining 18 yards on that play.
"The kid is humongous, but you can still run reverses with him like he's a 5-11 guy," EJ Manuel said of the 6-foot-6 Benjamin. "I think that just poses a lot that opposing defenses have to prepare for."
Benjamin's favorite play of the game, however, might have been the one he's worked on the most.
In the first quarter, Manuel found him in the front corner of the end zone on a fade route, with Benjamin jumping over a defender to grab a 9-yard touchdown.
"He threw it up, and I go and get it," Benjamin said. "We work on those every day, all day."
That's the beauty of having Benjamin as a weapon, Fisher said. He's able to play physical on a fade route or use his quickness on a reverse and he can execute both plays well.
That wasn't always the case, Benjamin admits. He was overweight a year ago, and that's part of what kept him off the field and landed him in a redshirt.
"I can make cuts that I wasn't when I first came in," Benjamin said. "I feel much smaller, much faster, much quicker."
He's come a long way, Fisher said, and it could just be the beginning.
"He'll keep progressing," Fisher said. "He's got a long way to go, but he can be a very good football player."