High school quarterback Jack Beneventi announced his verbal commitment to the Iowa football team on Twitter about 7 p.m. Thursday.
His decision came as no surprise to veteran recruiting analyst Tom Lemming.
Lemming had a feeling that the 6-foot-6, 185-pound Beneventi was close to committing to Iowa on Wednesday night when Beneventi didn’t attend Lemming’s 2013 National Collegiate Scouting Association All-Area Underclassmen Banquet at Soldier Field in Chicago. The banquet features the top 35 juniors from the Chicago-land area and Lemming said Beneventi was the only junior who didn’t attend the event.
Iowa offensive line coach Brian Ferentz attended the banquet, but Lemming assumes that Brian Ferentz knew at the time why Beneventi was absent.
“The reason was even though Brian Ferentz was at the thing, Beneventi was getting ready to meet the Iowa coaches,” said Lemming, who helps to organize and run the underclassmen banquet. “He was ready to commit to Iowa.”
Beneventi had narrowed his choices to Iowa and Illinois and Lemming figured that Beneventi’s absence from the banquet wasn’t a good sign for Illinois because Illinois coach Tim Beckman was the featured speaker at the event.
“I think that had a lot to do with (Beneventi not attending the banquet) because he was Illinois’ main focus,” Lemming said.
Lemming has been evaluating Beneventi since his freshman season, and he described Beneventi as the perfect fit for Iowa’s pro-style offense.
“He’s got a golden arm, and Iowa is one of the perfect schools for him because they have a pro-style offense and Jack wanted to go (play in that type of offense),” said Lemming, who lives near Chicago. “He’s not a runner. You’ll see that on film. But he’s got the arm strength and the release and the smarts and the poise to be an outstanding pro-style quarterback.”
Lemming said Iowa still benefits in recruiting by sticking with a pro-style offense at a time when many FBS teams are using spread offenses.
“A lot of the quarterbacks in high school want to go to pro-style offenses,” said Lemming, who has worked as a college football recruiting analyst since the late 1970s. “A lot of the players do; offensive tackles, tight ends and fullbacks. And I think it’s smart when you stay with a pro-style offense like Iowa has.
“Other spread offensive guys really can’t if the kid wants to make it to the NFL.”
Illinois and Notre Dame reportedly were the first two FBS schools to offer Beneventi a scholarship, and did so well ahead of Iowa, according to Lemming.
Lemming said Notre Dame was no longer an option for Beneventi after it received a verbal commitment Nov. 24 from Blake Barnett, a high school junior quarterback from Corona, Calif.
Lemming said Beneventi is similar to NFL star quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning with regard to his slender frame.
“I’m not saying he’s better than them, but he’s built just like those two guys were coming out of high school,” Lemming said.
Beneventi is the second high school junior to commit to Iowa’s 2015 recruiting class. The other is West Lyon offensive lineman Jake Newborg, who committed to Iowa on Aug. 31.
NCAA rules prohibit the Iowa coaches from talking publicly about a specific recruit before the recruit has signed a letter of intent, which Beneventi and Newborg can’t do until February of their senior year in 2015.
This marks the 12th year that Lemming has staged the banquet in Chicago. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz twice has been the featured speaker, including for Lemming’s inaugural event in 2002.
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer will be the featured speaker at the 2014 banquet.