- Brandon P. Oliver, Reporter, DuckNation
The senior season of one of the fastest rising players in the West during this recruiting cycle came to an end last week after a 28-17 loss to Queen Creek (Ariz.). Kani Benoit (Phoenix, Ariz./Thunderbird), a 5-foot-11, 200-pound running back, had another solid game but it wasn't enough to help Thunderbird advance to the Arizona Division III state championship game.
"It's tough to have it all come to an end like this," Benoit said. "To come so far and get this close and then lose is hard, but I have a great opportunity to play college football and now I have time to concentrate on recruiting."
Benoit has been patient while waiting for his recruitment to take off. Schools such as Boise State, Oregon and Vanderbilt have all been in touch recently, as has local favorite Arizona State. The Broncos, Ducks and Commodores are all waiting for his test scores to come back to ensure that he will qualify. When he gets his scores back Dec. 8, he expects to be getting some offers.
"Boise State says they really like me. They just need to see that my scores will be high enough. After that, they said an offer should be coming," Benoit said. "Same with Vanderbilt. I have been in contact with [Commodores running backs coach] coach Henley a lot lately. He said that once they have my scores, they want me to visit in mid-December."
The Oregon Ducks are also in a holding pattern when it comes to offering a scholarship, but there is another hurdle in the way.
"[Ducks running back coach] Coach Campbell and I have been in touch, but not for a couple of weeks," said Benoit, who rushed for 2,260 yards and 36 TD this season. "I know they just had [Tarean] Folston from Florida on a visit up there. Coach Campbell has been honest with me and said that they are waiting to see what he does. If he goes to Notre Dame or somewhere else, they said I will most likely get an offer."
While Benoit would prefer to be No. 1 on the Ducks' list, he understands the process and appreciates the interest he has received to this point from the Pac-12 power. That is more than he can say for the in-state schools that have not put in a lot of effort in pursuing him.
"I know they [Arizona and Arizona State] have running back commits for next year, but I haven't heard much of anything from either school," Benoit said. "[Arizona State offensive coordinator] Coach Norvell called my dad recently but I haven't been able to reach him since he called. An offer from them would be big for me, so we'll just see what happens."
Growing up in Vallejo (Calif.) before moving to Phoenix (Ariz.), Benoit didn't have a favorite school and while he maintains that he has no favorites, Benoit says he has one school in mind that he says would be hard to ignore should they offer.
"I don't have a favorite school, but if Vanderbilt does offer, that would be really exciting for me," Benoit said. "They offer a great education and are really coming up as a program. The opportunity to be a part of them developing their program and taking it to the next level, combined with that education, would be hard to ignore."
9hChantel Jennings and Ted Miller
2dChantel Jennings and Ted Miller