tackle Bennett happy in the trenches. The senior from California
isn't looking for the limelight. He'll get his 42d start in a row tomorrow.
By Joe Juliano INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Stan Bennett never concerned himself with playing a high-profile position
growing up in
Southern California. Being bigger than all the other kids from
the fifth grade on, he was ticketed for the offensive line.
Some would think that's a thankless, miserable fate, but
not Bennett. A 6-foot-5, 300-pound senior tackle for Villanova,
he feels neither unappreciated nor neglected. He is thankful
for the anonymity that his position provides. He is fueled by
the praise he receives from his teammates and his coaches.
"There's not really any other position I'd
rather play," Bennett said.
To be sure, there is plenty of acclaim for him. Bennett was
named to the preseason first team in the Atlantic Ten Football
Conference. When he lines up tomorrow against New Hampshire,
it will mark his 42d consecutive start, which covers every game
since he came to the Main Line from Rancho Santa Margarita,
The Wildcats' co-captain helped anchor a line that protected
record-setting quarterback Chris Boden the previous three years.
Now the unit opens holes for tailback Brian Westbrook, who is
103 yards away from becoming Villanova's career rushing
"It's some of the little joys that come with the
game," said Bennett, a communications major. "For
Brian to do something like this is great. He'll thank
us and let us know. He'll try to put the pride on us.
But he does a lot of that and that's what makes him a
great football player.
"The guys I play with are great people to be around. The
running backs and quarterbacks know that we're there and
they'll always try to give us compliments or assure us
that what's going on on the field is because of us. They
know we're doing a good job. As far as [fans] seeing us
and all that other stuff, that's not what I play for.
The people on the field are what really counts."
Villanova coach Andy Talley is a big fan of Bennett, both his
ability and his demeanor.
"He has the most even personality of anyone you'd
ever known," Talley said. "He's always pleasant
and a very unselfish individual. He's a guy you'd
want on your team every day.
"He plays hard every single play. He plays with deep pride.
He's very tenacious on the football field and a terrific
Bennett, who attended the same high school (Santa Margarita
Catholic) in Orange County, Calif., as Brian and Brad Finneran,
came east for his recruiting trip on a cold and wintry January
night wearing just a windbreaker, but committed to Villanova
anyway. Talley and his staff talked about red-shirting him as
a freshman, but Bennett won the starting job at guard and fought
off homesickness with the help of the Wildcats' other
Now, two inches taller and 60 pounds heavier than he was in
his first collegiate contest, Bennett has some NFL teams looking
at him. Right now, though, he is focusing on helping the Wildcats
get through their tough A-10 slate and into the postseason.
"It's always been a dream of mine to play football
professionally," he said, "but I don't want
to look past our season."
Bennett has reached that level of performance through hard work,
aided by the encouragement of Mark Ferrante, the Wildcats'
assistant coach in charge of the offensive line.
"You've got to work hard every day and keep one goal
in mind - to become the best that you can," he said. "Coach
Ferrante expects the best out of you. That's all he asks,
and you want to give it to him. When he asks for your best,
you're going to become a better player as time goes on.
I don't know if it was specific things I did, but doing
everything they asked me to do, and doing them the best I could."
As the leader, Bennett makes sure the offensive linemen remain
a close-knit group. They hang out together and do things together.
One ritual is a weekly meal a day or two before games, at the
"We're low on funds," he said.
It's that leadership from Bennett and his fellow captains
that helped Villanova rebound from an embarrassing 57-23 loss
at James Madison earlier this month. And it's something
the Wildcats will look to as they play three nationally-ranked
teams - Richmond, Massachusetts, Delaware - in the final four
Bennett knows his college career is winding down. Right now,
he's an offensive lineman having fun.
"I love football," he said. "I have a great time doing
it. The biggest thing is that I'm playing with some of the best
guys I've ever met."