Last week Arizona wide receiver commit Jarrell Bennett had his number called at the most crucial point in his team from New Orleans (La.) Edna Karr's season. After the Cougars' starter went down, Bennett found himself taking snaps as the team's quarterback in Louisiana's famed Superdome. Not only was the three-star prospect saddled with having to lead his team at a position he's not used to, it was also the Class 4A state title game.
Karr lost the championship game - its second in as many years - but Bennett said Wednesday night that he's still happy with what his team accomplished this season. Bennett added that he wasn't surprised he was called upon, because of something that took place the night before the game.
"First of all, it was an honor just to be in the championship game," Bennett said. "We defeated all odds, we overcame all obstacles. Nobody expected us to be in that position after starting off 1-3. Nobody expected us to win 11 in a row, so it's just an honor. I had a dream about it, though, that something was going to go wrong and I was going to end up playing quarterback.
"Playing quarterback is not my position, but I tried and did everything in my power to try to will my team to victory. It was a tough experience, but I was just blessed and fortunate to play in two state championship games. Unfortunately I came out on the losing end in both of them."
Now that his senior year is finished, Bennett can turn his full attention his future as a college football player. Unlike some of his peers who decided to see what else was out there when Mike Stoops was fired, the slot receiver never wavered in his commitment to the Wildcats. It didn't take long for Bennett to find comfort in that decision as Rich Rodriguez called him within days after being hired at UA.
After the Wildcats coaching staff spent Tuesday recruiting in the Phoenix area, one of the first places co-offensive coordinator Calvin Magee went on Wednesday was Karr to see Bennett and his uncommitted teammate Darrian Dyson.
Bennett said that he knows Magee after having been recruited by the new Wildcats coach while he was at Pittsburgh. However, he added that it was good to catch up with the man who, along with Rod Smith, will be in charge of the offense he will be a part of.
"He recruited me at Pittsburgh, and now fortunately I get the chance to play for him at Arizona now," Bennett said. " ... He said I kind of reminded him of DeSean Jackson, so he said my future at Arizona is bright. I had a real good time talking to him and I bonded with him real close today (Wednesday)."
The 5-foot-10 prospect said that he knows how important speed is in Rodriguez' offense, and he also knows that it's something he's going to have to get better at to be an effective receiver at UA in this new scheme. Bennett is confident, however, that he can become a faster player once he gets the proper training with the 'Cats.
"I run a 4.46, but that's not fast enough," Bennett said. "Once I get stronger, I think my 40-time will drop tremendously. [Magee] told me that he likes my speed and how I can make plays in the open field, so once I get there and start hitting the weights and getting stronger he's gonna love how my 40-time is going to drop."
Out of UA's 2012 class Bennett is one of better fits for the new offense, and he has a decent shot to earn some early playing time. Bennett said he would be ready if called on to play in his freshman year, but he knows it won't happen unless he works toward that goal in practice and the offseason.
"It's just a blessing to have an opportunity to go play at the next level, because a lot of guys have that opportunity," he said. "So I'm just going to go to Arizona and I'm going to hit it hard, and hopefully I am one of the guys that can come in a contribute as a true freshman. ... The mindset that I have going to Arizona is that I'm going to go in there to work hard and let everything else play itself out."
For now Bennett won't have to think about last week's loss as he looks toward his future and working to become an effective piece of UA's Rose Bowl hopes.