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Benet quarterback Jack Beneventi fires a pass against Downers Grove North. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
Discussing his offer from Illinois last week, Neuqua Valley junior wide receiver Mike Dudek talked of Illinois coach Tim Beckman’s desire to build an in-state powerhouse.
Less than a week after offering Dudek a scholarship, Beckman and his staff extended an offer to Benet sophomore quarterback Jack Beneventi.
A day after seeing his basketball season end with a 42-38 loss to West Aurora in the title game of the Class 4A Bolingbrook Sectional, Beneventi took his first trip to Champaign and promptly received a scholarship offer on Sunday.
“Coach [Tim] Beckman, his big plan moving forward is to build like an Illinois powerhouse with Illinois kids,” Beneventi said late Wednesday night. “He wants to keep like the best athletes (in-state). The best athletes in the state of Illinois, he wants to keep them in Illinois. So like [instead] of going down to like LSU or like the West Coast — you know the other states, he wants them to stay in Illinois and go to the University of Illinois.”
Illinois marks the first BCS scholarship offer Beneventi has received, following offers extended from both Western Michigan and Massachusetts last month.
“Yeah, it was awesome. When they offered, it was really exciting because it’s Illinois, it’s Big Ten. I’ve been following them forever, I mean, being in this state,” he said. “It’s also cool because if you make it to the state finals, you get to play there. It’s just really nice. I like the Big Ten a lot.”
Illinois isn’t the only Big Ten school he’s looking at, evidenced by the fact he’s planning on visiting Northwestern unofficially this weekend and is hopeful to do the same at Penn State over spring break.
Undeterred by the four-year bowl ban the Nittany Lions received last July from the NCAA, he views the Penn State program as potentially a great fit.
“Their offense [Penn State coach Bill] O’Brien runs is the exact offense I’m looking for. It’s similar to what now Illinois is gonna be putting in,” Beneventi said. “I really like it because it’s for a pro-style quarterback.”
Earning All-East Suburban Catholic Conference accolades along the way, the lanky Beneventi, at 6-6 and 190 pounds, completed 59.7 percent of his passes for 2,318 passing yards and 20 touchdowns last fall as the Redwings went 11-2 and advanced to the Class 7A state semifinals.
Receiving those first two Division I scholarship offers from Western Michigan and Massachusetts last month and on the heels of receiving his first BCS offer, he has made four unofficial visits to Notre Dame.
He’s planning on making a fifth unofficial visit to Notre Dame on March 24, with a visit to Western Michigan’s Junior Day preceding that on the 23rd and a potential visit to State College, Pa. to come later that week.
“I’ve really gotten the chance to know (Notre Dame offensive coordinator) Coach (Chuck) Martin very well. I really like talking to him and then going down, visiting him there,” Beneventi said. “Also, I really like the campus. I know, at Benet, I know a lot of kids go to Notre Dame. Even if they don’t go to Notre Dame, it’s followed hugely at Benet.
“Everyone’s a huge Notre Dame fan, so it’s cool to be recruited by them, where I go to a school where everyone follows Notre Dame. Also, I really like traditions they have and just the program and just the prestige there.”
Admitting that Stanford is somewhat of a “dream” choice for him, Beneventi holds Georgia in high regard as well, saying that he has received a questionnaire from Georgia and going as far to indicate that he believes the Bulldogs know him and are keeping tabs on him.