December 18, 2007

Benavides set to get a head start

Los Fresnos (Texas) H.S. offensive lineman Mario Benavides was playing high school football two weeks ago. Now, the 6-foot-4, 295-pound prospect is packing his bags and getting ready to transition to Louisville. talked with the three-star prospect about his future as a Cardinal, when he'll join the squad, and how he plans to celebrate the big move.

Just a few weeks after leading Los Fresnos to its second straight ten-win season, the three-star prospect who is rated as the No. 72 player in the Lonestar State will be moving north by almost 1,400 miles. After committing to the Cardinals in October, Benavides remains true to his word.

"I'm actually leaving in three weeks, so it would be kind of dumb to think of anyone else," he told "I've been solid on them since I committed to them. I committed to Ole Miss real early and it wasn't like I made a bad decision, but I hadn't been anywhere else other than Oxford so I didn't have anything else to base my decision on. When I got out and saw Louisville, I realized Louisville was the place for me. They have great coaches and the players welcomed me, and they have a top ten business program."

Benavides will graduate in December and said he'll join the Cardinal program in early January. He keeps in constant contact with recruiting coach Tony Alford and said he is ready to "get acclimated" to life as a Cardinal.

"We're going to do a mock signing at my high school on Tuesday," Benavides revealed. "Everybody's real excited here. Me and Eloy (Atkinson - Texas El-Paso) will be signing. It's a really small town, but we get a lot of support. The principal wants to do a mock signing. I talked to Coach Alford and got some paperwork, so we're going to do that and the news is going to come and stuff like that."

Just for kicks, you should know that the weather in Los Fresnos will be 80 degrees on Tuesday, while Louisville is expected to come in at around 45 or so. "The thing is that people don't understand, but where I'm from is really South Texas. I'm about ten miles from Mexico. Nobody recruits down here," Benavides said with a laugh.

"When you talk about other parts of Texas there are recruits everywhere. But we don't have many recruits come out of where I am," he added. "A lot of people aren't aware of us. But this year, Texas schools started getting a little jealous because people from out of state started recruiting me. They looked at my recruiting tape and said they should have been on me sooner."

So how did people find him, in an area he jokes is the "least recruited area in the United States"?

"We played against Austin West (a state powerhouse that produced Drew Brees) and I had about 25 pancakes. That's what got people's attention," he answered.

Benavides, who said he is not only a big man but an athletic player who can still dunk a basketball at his size and weight,
said other schools have continued to pursue him, including Kansas, which recently offered. But his next stop will be UofL: "This year was Coach Kragthorpe's first year, and it takes a while for the players to buy in to the program, but I'm ready to get up there and get to work for them."

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