Weight: 230 pounds
Hometown: Cape Coral, Florida
We’ve made it. We’ve seen the new uniforms, studied the new numbered roster, and the diamonds have been painted on Scott Stadium’s pristine David A. Harrison field.
Virginia Football is back tomorrow.
Only one player profile remains, and he is arguably the Hoo we want to know the most about. Kurt Benkert transferred from East Carolina University (ECU) in the spring with a finance degree and two years of eligibility remaining. With his big frame, strong arm, and mobile feet, he’s in line with what Coach Bronco Mendenhall said he was looking for when he described his perfect ‘Thorterback’.
Ruffin McNeill, the current assistant head coach for the Wahoos and former head coach at ECU, originally recruited Benkert to the Pirates in 2013. Benkert redshirted his first season, and saw action in just three games in 2014 before winning the starting job before the 2015 season. He would not see the field again for ECU, tearing his meniscus and ACL just a week before the season started – an injury that required surgery.
Fast-forward to August 24, 2016, and Benkert emerged as the starting quarterback for the new look Wahoos under Coach Mendenhall. His ability to throw the deep ball will mesh well with Mendenhall’s air-raid offense, and lack of depth on the offensive line could require Benkert to scurry at times.
Despite being a new face in the program, Coach Mendenhall had high praise for Benkert, telling VirginiaSports.com’s Jeff White, “Kurt came wanting a challenge, and he came wanting an opportunity, and he came wanting to do hard things. When a player comes with that mindset already, really anything we've been able to throw at him, he's just smiled and said, `That's why I'm here.'"
The no-huddle spread offense that new staff members Robert Anae and Jason Beck brought with them from BYU is similar to what McNeill ran at ECU, benefitting Benkert. Also, he can throw footballs through basketball hoops:
…and can throw footballs over mountains.
As Virginia has featured 10 starting quarterback in 11 seasons, fans in Charlottesville are used to seeing a new face out on the field on opening day. What they will get from Benkert is still an unknown at this point, but the optimism is high. With assets like Smoke Mizzell, David Eldridge, Andre Levrone, and Olamide Zaccheaus, the sky is the limit for the new-look Virginia offense.
The 21 year old, who married his sweetheart Samantha Morreal in July, will take master’s classes at the Curry School of Education while continuing to pursue his dream on the gridiron.
Benkert and the Hoos take the field at 3:30 tomorrow against Richmond. The game will be televised on ESPN3. Stay with Streaking the Lawn for all your UVA coverage!