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September 11, 2012
Can Oklahoma Find Help at OT?
With Monday's tough news that not only had Sooners four-star offensive tackle offer Kenny Lacy committed to UCLA but also that Sooners three-star tackle commitment Matt Beyer was being forced to give up football there are few positions on the field that have become more critical to the class.
With that in mind the Sooners are hoping to make a big impression on Katy (Texas) Seven Lakes four-star offensive lineman Caleb Benenoch moving forward. Though Benenoch hasn't yet set up his official visits he is staying in frequent contact with the Sooner coaching staff, or he had been.
"What I've done is since we've started two a days I haven't called a coach. If I talk to them it's on Facebook or Twitter. I've kind of stopped calling them. I want to be as engulfed in this as I can, you think about it, you have to, but I didn't get to where I am by talking to coaches. (My teammates) helped me as much as I helped the team, they deserve my undivided attention," Benenoch said.
The hopes of Seven Lakes in his senior year are a big part of Benenoch's motivating factors in how he is handling his recruiting, and life in general at the moment. The 6-foot-6, 321-pound offensive tackle realizes how much he owes to his teammates, school, and community.
"I'd like to commit on homecoming night, at the homecoming game, just for the fact, homecoming game, the whole school goes. We have thousands of people, the whole community, every one has been such a great part, and I want the teachers, the students, my mom, my sister, possibly my brother can make it in, that's why I'd like to make my choice then. But if I haven't taken my visits by then, then I can't," he said while acknowledging how unlikely that is, particularly after a recent UCLA offer.
Unfortunately the football season hasn't started the way the big man had hoped due to an ankle injury suffered in his team's scrimmage against Fort Bend Austin on Aug. 24. That being said, he is enjoying being a senior and knows how much the big hopes of this year will mean to not just his team and school but the Seven Lakes community.
"It feels good being a senior, just walking around the hallways, you're at the top of the hill now. I don't go to school until 8:20, and school starts at 7:30 and next semester I go late and leave early. It's a lot more easy now," he admitted.
"It has sunk in for me that this is my last season. Which is why I worked so hard this summer with the guys, I worked hard to be around my teammates. I know that when it ends, I'll probably not play football with these guys again and a lot of these guys won't get a chance to play again. These guys are so intense; we have to work so much harder and we have.
"It would mean the world for us to get to playoffs and make a run, not just to the school, but to the community. We've had people backing us, I was here when we won two games, when we won six games last year. Seeing the student body get behind the school and the whole community back us and I want to repay them, it would be huge for us to make it and have a great run in the playoffs."
Currently Benenoch is trying to find a way to set up official visits and says he'll likely visit Oklahoma for their Sept. 22 meeting with Kansas State. He says that his numerous upcoming trips will go a long way toward figuring out just what he wants to do.
"I want to see some other schools, one of the reasons I decommitted from Michigan State is so I could be more open to taking visits. I've been to Baylor a bunch of times. I hope to get up to Northwestern, I love what they are doing, probably Oklahoma next weekend and some others too," he said.
"I'm very open to all the schools, I grew up a Texas Longhorn fan. I've been very open about that, so I'll be a little bit biased but I'm not making a decision on that. It's mind over heart. I just see to many guys - they want to play at their hometown school and I don't want to be in a situation where I go there and I hate it. I want to make sure I make the right decision for me. When I feel like I find that place I'll know."
Benenoch acknowledges that his mixture of schools is more than slightly eclectic.
"That's an interesting thing for me, I've got to find out what is most important, and go with that. I mean Northwestern is great academically, but they don't play football like Oklahom and Texas but even lately Texas hasn't played football like Oklahoma," he said.
"It's going to be a lot about campus feel, I'll have to be at this place for four or five years, I feel like when you get on a campus, then you'll just know."
While he'll spend time in Norman getting to know much about Oklahoma's program, players, and even coaches he won't be doing any meet and greets with the Sooners staff that he is already well aware of.
" It's a bunch of coaches that I talk to from Oklahoma. I've talked to coach (Bruce) Kittle, (James) Patton, (Tim) Kish, and (Josh) Heupel," Benenoch explained. "They've all stayed in contact with me, but Oklahoma and Texas are my heaviest recruiters. I get letters from them every day.
"Actually coach Patton is the last college coach I talked to. That was on our second day of two a days, he was the last one I talked to before I kind of shut it down."
Obviously Benenoch knows that people will make something of that admission - is that fair?
"No that doesn't mean anything, that's just how it worked out."