Since Virginia was thumped by Navy in the Military Bowl in December, Benkert, who received his masters in higher education and athletic administration, has had plenty of time to work on his game to improve his draft stock come Thursday, April 26. Aside from not having any more classes, Benkert has had an entirely different focus this semester than last.
“The weirdest part is not being in a team setting,” Benkert told us when reflecting on the differences between how he was training before and how he’s training now in preparation for the Draft. “[I’m] really just focusing on nutrition, working out, and working on specific things that relate to quarterbacking that I want to improve on.”
In addition to his own training, the NFL Combine, and UVA’s Pro Day, Benkert represented the ACC’s quarterbacks in the All Star Football challenge, a performance he wasn’t too pleased with.
“I think the only one I wasn’t happy with was the skill challenge,” Benkert said. “But everything else I was extremely happy with, and those were the important ones anyways.”
At the Combine, Benkert clocked in with a 4.95 40-second dash, a 9’4” broad jump (fifth best among QBs), a 7.15 3-cone drill, and a 31” vertical jump (fourth best among QBs). He was the only QB to bench, putting up 16 reps. You can watch his Combine video highlights here.
“I felt like I made the most of the opportunities and didn’t leave anything on the table”
That’s not to say he doesn’t recognize that he still has work to do. So far, he describes his own strengths as “making all of the throws, and extending plays with my feet to make off charted throws.” (His draft profile agrees in part, noting that he was hurt this season by excessive drop total by his targets.) He says he’s continuing to work to improve the consistency of his ball placement.
Being from Cape Coral, Florida, it should come as no surprise that his favorite team growing up was the Miami Dolphins. Today, he lists the Dolphins, the Titans, and the Cardinals as his top three teams, but quickly adds, “I would gladly play for any organization that wants me.”
When he’s not working hard on the field and in the gym, he can probably be found at Five Guys, his favorite restaurant around Grounds. And for the answer to the most burning question, his Bodo’s order? “I’m more of a breakfast bacon egg and cheese guy.”
The NFL Draft starts Thursday, April 26. You can stream the whole thing live online at NFL.com/LIVE.
“I’m definitely taking a breath and enjoying this. I’ve realized that what’s happening is a culmination of many years of working hard and dreaming, and for it to come to fruition in this way I feel like I’d be doing myself a disservice by not appreciating it.”