- Max Olson, ESPN Staff Writer
After taking an official visit to UCLA last weekend, Caleb Benenoch (Katy, Texas/Seven Lakes) is one step closer to reaching his decision.
The four-star offensive lineman is down to Texas, Oklahoma, Baylor and UCLA as his final four choices. He made the trip to Los Angeles for the Bruins’ 35-17 loss to Stanford but came away thoroughly impressed.
“It was a lot of fun,” Benenoch said. “I got to hang out with players like Simon Goines. He’s from Keller, Texas, so we had a lot to talk about since we’re both Texas guys. Their center is also a Texas guy, and there were lots of people I can relate to.
“I’m glad I took it. I got to see a lot of things I’d wanted to see and talked to the coaches. I got a good feel from taking that visit. I’m happy I took it.”
Benenoch knew UCLA already had a spot in the Pac-12 title game clinched and wasn’t concerned that, in his opinion, the team didn’t show up for that game the way they did against USC. The atmosphere at the game still blew him away, especially the fact that he was taking in a game in the Rose Bowl.
UCLA’s coaching staff has been selling the 6-foot-6, 321-pound lineman on a chance to play right away. The Bruins already have verbal commitments from seven offensive linemen for their 2013 class, but that doesn’t bug Benenoch.
“With the division I play in in high school and the competition I play, going out there and competing for a spot isn’t something that bothers me,” he said. “You’ve got to earn your spot every week. It doesn’t matter how many people they get.”
Now there’s one last thing that has to happen before the offensive guard makes his pledge. Benenoch is taking an official visit to Baylor this weekend.
Benenoch took an unofficial visit to Baylor earlier this year for their season opener against SMU. His brother, Josh, is a redshirt freshman defensive back for the Bears, and they’ve emerged as a serious contender for his pledge.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Benenoch said. “It’s funny -- people think I go up there a lot, but I’ve only actually ever been to Baylor one time. I really want to get an in-depth look at everything and their situation with offensive linemen. I’ll take that trip and then I’ll be ready for a decision.”
Benenoch hasn’t shied away from saying Texas is his No. 1 school in the past. Now, he’s not so sure. Are the Longhorns still on top despite the UCLA and Baylor official visits?
“I’m going to keep that to myself for right now,” Benenoch said.
5hMax Olson and Jake Trotter
5dJake Trotter, Brandon Chatmon and Max Olson