LB Benas hopeful about his chances at WKU

Jordan Wells

A knee injury of the worst timing hurt his recruitment. But linebacker Keith Benas may find his second chance at WKU.

The 190-pound athlete hopes to visit WKU in February.

Benas, a senior at Waubonsie High School (Ill.), grew up with perhaps different circumstances than the average kid, having to move from Chicago to Missouri after the third grade.

“From third grade up to my sophomore year, I was pretty much by myself.” he Benas. “I rarely ever saw my father, and my mother lived in Illinois.”

Benas once received some spending money in the mail from his grandparents. They discovered he spent it all and became upset with the teenager (at first).

But the 5-foot-10 outside linebacker didn’t blow the money unwisely. He put everything he had toward the costs of attending a football camp at Central Missouri.

“I enjoyed the camp and got a lot out of it, so I don’t regret it.” he said.

Benas was working hard on his grades, and on the football field, except a knee injury took him down an unexpected path.

His junior year, while trying to make a tackle on special teams, Benas was cut blocked — when a player blocks a defender below the knees — by one of his opponents.

Benas jerked to try to make the tackle, and succeeded, bringing the ball carrier down but blew out his anterior cruciate ligament.

Despite the setback, the linebacker never gave up.

Benas worked hard at his rehabilitation and said he’s back to 100 percent health.

“I had a doctor tell me I would never squat again.” he said. “Now I can squat over 400 pounds.”

As a senior coming off his ACL injury, Benas wrote a lengthy letter to football coaches at a few different schools, explaining his story.

He’s hoping he will get a chance to prove himself as a walk-on at WKU in the fall.

“When I got the acceptance letter from Western Kentucky, I was so happy,” he said. “It was crazy.” 

Benas said along with the rise of the football program, he’s also attracted to WKU because it has his desired major, nursing.

He wants to have a story to tell like Patrick Willis, the former Mississippi and current San Francisco 49ers linebacker.

“I read a story about (Patrick) Willis, where he said ‘I really wanted to go to Tennessee. But Tennessee didn’t really want me,'” Benas said.

Willis instead committed to Ole Miss, a school in the same conference as Tennessee, and ended up earning First Team All-American honors.

“That kind of reminded me of myself,” he said. “I put in a lot of work to come back from that injury, now I’m ready to keep working hard and see what happens next.”