Benton Whitley: 2022 Pro Prospect Interview
Name: Benton Whitley
School: College of the Holy Cross
What goals did you set and/or accomplish in your final collegiate season?
What I set out to do this season is the same as what I set out to do every season and that was to show lots of improvement from the year prior. For this season that meant dominating all of my 1 on 1 matchups by being a dominant run defender AND a dominant pass rusher. I felt that I did this, this past season but there are definitely things to clean up.
Q: How do you think you took advantage of the extra year of eligibility to increase your chances of going pro?
With my extra season of eligibility, I really honed in on my technique in run like my hand placement, arm extension, and my ability to disengage with OL. In pass I also worked on my set recognition, natural use of counter moves, my get off and my stance. I also really focused in on the schematics within the game. Things like play recognition, offensive tendencies and my overall situational awareness which made me a much more effective edge defender.
Q: What would your coaches and teammates say about the type of player you are?
They would say that I am an extremely competitive self motivator that loves to learn and improve. I’ll take full advantage of anything that will take my game to the next level. They’d also say that I like to be coached and that I like to be coached hard. I don’t want anything sugarcoated and when I make a mistake no matter how small it is I’ll want to know how to fix it.
Q: When you are studying film, what are the things you focus on to improve your game?
When studying film during the season first I like to compare the snap of the ball to the get off of the offensive linemen that I will be going against throughout that game (usually both starting tackles). Generally, the ball will be snapped before the OT gets off the ball which will tell me to key the ball in key pass rush situations that week. However, sometimes the OT has a fast get off and so keying the ball in pass rushing situations would leave me at a disadvantage. I also study the guys I’m going against in passing situations. I often look at what type of puncher an offensive lineman is (wide, low, high, alternate). Then I look at what type of setter they are (over setter, vertical setter, angle setter). For the run plays I often look for strong offensive tendencies that can give me a heads up such as unique backfield sets and unique posture / alignment of OL and TEs. Outside of the season I tend to watch successful college and pro players with my body type (such as Demarcus Lawrence, Khalil Mack, Chandler Jones) to see if there is anything that they do that I can pick up and add to my game.
Q: What separates you from the other pro prospects at your position?
My work ethic. I do everything in my power to continuously improve and I feel like this stems from my wrestling background. I wrestled from when I was 7 years old until my senior year of HS and in wrestling there is no one to blame or to lean on but yourself. Therefore, if you don’t put in the work then you will lose. That is why since I’ve been a child I’ve done everything that I could to set myself apart from my competition.
Q: What is your offseason plan to train and prepare for professional opportunities?
This off-season I have planned to train with the amazing staff over at Landow Performance in Centennial, CO.
Q: What kind of strengths and abilities will you bring to a team that will stand out both on and off the field?
I would bring my work ethic to a team which will help inspire those around time to give their best and to compete in everything that they do. I also think that my positive attitude will rub off on others around me helping raise the overall morale of any team that I get to be a part of. On the field, I feel like I have extremely versatile size and traits which would allow me to play multiple positions within the box as well as special teams.
Q: What is your final pitch to the NFL and any other pro leagues?
I am an extremely hard working player that will continuously improve in all aspects of my game. I put my hand in the dirt for the first time as a freshman in college at 213 pounds which just shows the level of growth that I had and my willingness to learn. Considering this and the versatility that I possess on the playing field, I feel that my best football is ahead of me.