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Badgers football recruit Keeanu Benton foregoes early graduation to cap wrestling career at state tournament | College Football

Keeanu Benton hopes to develop quite a few reminiscences for University of Wisconsin football enthusiasts when he arrives on campus in the slide.

The Janesville Craig senior could have adopted the lead of quite a few of his foreseeable future teammates by completing superior faculty early and enrolling at UW for the current spring semester.

But Benton had one particular far more job to realize in a Cougars uniform.

Right before he heads to Madison to compete for a location at defensive stop, the Janesville Craig senior hopes to devote a prolonged weekend in the Kohl Middle, just a few blocks down the road from Camp Randall, supplying Badgers enthusiasts an early glimpse of what they’ll see on the gridiron in the foreseeable future.

Benton is headed to the WIAA Division 1 point out wrestling match as the state’s best-ranked Division 1 heavyweight, and will consider an undefeated document into his opening match on Thursday.

So far, it has been a dominant year for Benton. In the sectional on Saturday, for intstance, he recorded a few pins that needed a overall of about a few minutes of mat action. Those victories improved his year document to 43-, including 40 pin victories.

When football is his to start with adore, as his recruitment been given significant fascination from schools throughout the nation, Benton admits it will be challenging to wander off the mat for the last time this weekend, anytime that happens.

“It really is type of a disappointment, but it truly is also fascinating,” Benton explained. “I just want to depart it all out there and not keep something back. I want to go 100 p.c and carry it property.

“There’s type of a disappointment that I would not be with the very same group of men and women that I have been with the last four many years, my coaches, teammates. That’s been part of my daily life for a prolonged time.”

Benton’s increase to the best of the point out wrestling rankings came incrementally. After he explained he was “beat up a very little little bit” as a freshman wrestler at Craig, Benton stepped up his teaching and worked to arise as one particular of the far more strong heavyweights in the point out.

He to start with certified for the point out match as a sophomore and concluded 37-4, but did not spot. Benton cruised all the way to the Division 1 closing as a junior and compiled a 46-2 document, but was pinned in 1 moment, 28 seconds in the 285-pound closing.

That loss remaining a terrible flavor in Benton’s mouth.

“I just had to thrust myself on acquiring superior and stronger,” he explained. “Last yr I was just a very little too weak, I guess, and received down on myself. But this yr, I received right after it in the excess weight room and with sprints.”

At the very same time, Benton’s university foreseeable future came into clearer check out. Deemed a 3-star recruit by most providers, Benton’s size and strength as a defender started to attract stronger fascination from Division 1 coaches.

Craig wrestling mentor Mark Mullen served open up a door for Benton at Wisconsin when he contacted former All-American deal with Chris McIntosh, who was also a superior-faculty wrestler at Pewaukee and is now UW’s deputy athletic director.

“My to start with coaching job was at Madison West with Donnell Thompson (the former Badgers standout linebacker), and I explained to Chris that I have a kid that need to perform at Wisconsin — I explained he is far more athletic than Thompson, and Chris explained, ‘no way,'” Mullen explained.

A few months afterwards, when Wisconsin held its 2018 spring football game — a contest that was canceled thanks to inclement climate — Benton received his shot to be a Badger.

“A 7 days just before the spring game, they invited Keeanu up as a guest,” Mullen explained. “I explained to him to textual content me when he received back. And all of a unexpected, at 10 o’clock at evening, he calls to say he received a entire ride.

“They achieved him that evening and he was in Paul Chryst’s business office. They could see he was a fantastic-hearted kid.”

Excited to get to get on campus and perform football, Benton considered graduating early from Craig and acquiring a jump on his university vocation. But the risk of successful a point out wrestling title was one particular of the reasons he put that move on keep for another pair of months.

This weekend, he hopes to realize that desire.

“I desired to end my senior yr,” he explained. “I desired to end my senior yr wrestling, simply because I came so shut last yr. This yr, I get another chance to get right after it.”

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