One of the most prized recruits from the 2019 class was Lakeville North’s Bryce Benhart. This website had him ranked as the second-best prospect in the state for most of his junior and senior seasons. Division I football programs agreed…
One of the most prized recruits from the 2019 class was Lakeville North’s Bryce Benhart. This website had him ranked as the second-best prospect in the state for most of his junior and senior seasons. Division I football programs agreed as Benhart had offers to play at many Division I programs. Benhart committed early in his senior season and then – instead of resting on his already impressive resume – he took a path many DI commits do not take. His risks paid off, and he will leave high school as a state champion in two sports.
Benhart was motivated to get to the next level as a football player early on in his football career.
“I was always a bigger kid and was always on the offensive or defensive line,” Benhart said. “My dad always told me you have the talent – don’t waste it. Do something with your talent. Use that to go somewhere big to play football. Get a college degree out of it.”
Part of not wasting his talent came in the form of the decisions he made about his offseason training which involved wrestling.
“I would get beat on (in wrestling) the first couple of years,” Benhart – who started both football and wrestling in third grade – said. “My dad pulled up a list of all the NFL players who wrestled – guys like Ray Lewis, Roddy White and all those guys that wrestled in high school. I knew wrestling would help me with football.”
As he continued to improve on the football field, DI schools started to take notice.
“The summer before my junior year I got my first Division I offer,” Benhart said. “After the first offer, I started to get more colleges contacting me. (Recruiting) took off from there. I started visiting more places and started to get more offers. At some points, it was a stressful process – knowing that most people don’t get this shot – but there I put a lot of pressure on myself to pick the right school and coaches for me.”
Benhart found a place he liked and didn’t waste much time making his intentions public.
“I committed to Nebraska in October; I knew I wasn’t going to find a better place for me than Nebraska. I didn’t want to wait to listen to more teams talk; I knew where I wanted to go and just wanted to get it over with.”
“I liked (Nebraska head coach) Coach (Scott) Frost and my position coach – Coach (Greg) Austin. I liked the academic opportunities,” Benhart continued. “They sell out every game and you are treated like an NFL team there because you are the only big-time football team in the state. You are treated differently. It is close enough to home, so I can drive back for a weekend if I had to.”
After being part of a state championship football team, Benhart had the option to play it safe and wait for the chance to head south to Nebraska – he did not take that option.
“Knowing that (current Minnesota Gophers’ wrestling All-American Gable Steveson) would be gone my senior year – I believed I would be the favorite to win it all,” Benhart – who took fourth in State in wrestling as a junior – said. “I knew I could have a dominating type of senior year. I had the goal of winning a state championship in football and then winning a state title in wrestling.”
Steveson – who ended his high school career last season as a four-time state champion – had a brief conversation with Benhart that motivated the future Cornhusker.
“I lost to Gable four times last year, and after they gave out the awards (at the state wrestling tournament), he came up behind me and said, ‘this (championship) is for you next year.’ That meant a lot to me. It made me want to come back instead of going right to Nebraska.”
Benhart was never very concerned with injury.
“I could kind of control that,” Benhart said. “I was more worried about injury in football than wrestling. There are a lot of pile-ups in football where you could get rolled up on. Wrestling I wasn’t worried about it because I could control the positions, I got in. The referees are smart about when to stop the match if there is something potentially dangerous.”
His future football program had no problem with Benhart’s decision to keep wrestling.
“(Nebraska) was fine with whatever I did,” the 310-pound senior said. “They were all for me wrestling and winning a state title. It didn’t bother them as much as you might think. They liked the idea.”
Benhart likes the idea of any aspiring college football player playing other sports in high school.
“If you a guy who doesn’t do a winter sport and you don’t play basketball, and you are a big guy – you should wrestle,” Benhart concluded. “If you are on the offensive line or the defensive line and you are just going to lift weights in the winter – give wrestling a shot. Wrestling teaches you about leverage, hand fighting, grit, the mental game of sports; you get in great shape. There is nothing like it. You increase your flexibility. It helped me out a lot.”
It helped him all the way to a two-sport state champion and a Division I scholarship.