An All-American offensive tackle in high school, Benedict suffered severe damage to his right knee his senior season at the Bolles School in Jacksonville, Fla. He tore ligaments, snapped his hamstring and had nerve damage—the biggest indicator of a grave injury.
After a healthy spring, he’s now back working out with no limitations. But there are still lingering effects.
“My knee and ligaments are solid now,” Benedict, 6-foot-6, 301 pounds, said. “I’m back to squatting and working out and everything else. The only issue now is the nerve growth, which is causing me to have part of my foot that still has no feeling whatsoever, and I’ve still got a strength issue in my ankle. But I was able to brace it up in the spring, and it was good.”
Practicing all spring with no setbacks was important for Benedict, since he was forced to redshirt last season while rehabbing. Taking that much time away from football created some self-doubt. Spring participation erased any uncertainty or hesitation.
“It’s been a while since I played so I was a little bit rusty,” he said. “The change of pace from high school to SEC football is a pretty big deal. I felt good, and it was good to get out there and play and all that kind of stuff. After an injury like I had, I never really knew if I could get back out there. With the knee, hamstring and nerve involvement, I was happy to get back out there. Now I’m trying to make something of myself by getting my body right for the next season coming up.”
Getting his body right called for a rigorous schedule the past few weeks. While most players are back at home until the first week of June, Benedict is still rehabbing in Athens. But he’s doubling that up with sessions instructed by renowned trainer Ryan Goldin in Suwanee.
“Brent is strong as an ox,” said David Andrews, an incoming freshman who also trains with Goldin. “Watching him back out here working hard has been great considering everything he’s been through.”
There is still some stiffness in Benedict’s knee, most notably evident when he does agility work or runs for distance. He was moved from tackle to guard this offseason, most likely because of his limited mobility. Currently, he is the primary backup at right guard with still four years ahead of him to regain full confidence in his knee.
“This season, I’ll probably be wearing a special brace as a precaution,” Benedict said. “That has yet to be determined. But for the most part I feel good. I’m just trying my best to get my body right.”