Despite the lack of depth the Georgia Bulldogs have at wide receiver for 2010, Michael Bennett’s (No. 18 pictured) name hasn’t been mentioned much as a potential target for Aaron Murray. This lack of notoriety is a familiar scenario for the young man from Alpharetta, GA.
Bennett was referred to as the “most underrated wide receiver” prospect in the state for 2009 by MaxPreps. He didn’t even receive any Division I offers until after his performance at the 2009 Atlanta National Underclassmen Combine (NUC).
It was there that he took home the prestigious ‘Combine King’ award after making mince meat of the competition in both 7-on-7 and 1-on-1 drills.
His impressive performances continued into his senior season at Alpharetta High School (AAAAA), where he finished the year with 1,084 all-purpose yards, 7 touchdowns, 35 tackles, 2 interceptions, and 693 rushing yards.
Now, he hopes to carry his productivity into the SEC where his goal is to be a solid contributor for Georgia—early.
Many have compared Bennett to current Georgia Bulldog receiver, Kris Durham, and while the two are similar in size and build, that is where the similarities end. The more film you see on Bennett, the more you realize that he is a very special player with more talent than he's been given credit for—in my opinion.
His size, speed, vertical leaping ability, and overall approach to the game is very similar to that of current Georgia standout, A.J. Green (who, coincidentally, Bennett states he has tried to model his game after). He has a tremendous ability to make the catch—no matter the situation—and his body control while in the air is something to see.
The latter was something that scouts were equally impressed by during their evaluation of him at the various summer camps he attended during his junior season. He was fearless when going up to make the catch and his willingness to sacrifice his body for the ball made for some highlight reel catches on the field.
He doesn’t mind contact either (he also played some defensive back in high school), and coming to the SEC, he has committed himself to getting stronger so that he is prepared to take the hits that will surely come his way as a result.
It’s that kind of dedication that has the coaches excited about his long-term potential.
As of now, it’s uncertain what will happen with Bennett for 2010. If he’s ready, and performs well this summer, it may be difficult to keep him off the field. However, with the maturation of Marlon Brown and the return of Kris Durham, it may be difficult for him to gain much in the way of playing time as the teams 5th or 6th option.
That said, Bennett is preparing like a guy who expects to play this year—he is not looking to redshirt in 2010. His understanding is that his opportunity to play will come sooner, rather than later and if it does, Georgia fans should be surprised by what they'll see.
If nothing else, he has a ton of upside for the future and it would not surprise me to see him taking on a much bigger role in 2011—particularly if A.J. Green leaves for the NFL as expected (Green is a projected Top 10 pick).
Michael Bennett is definitely one to watch.