NU football vs. Minnesota, 10/20/18

Nebraska recruit Bryce Benhart (left) smiles as he watches the pregame warmups before the Huskers take on Minnesota at Memorial Stadium in October.

Recruiting a lineman bigger than the Christmas tree in his house is generally a strong strategy for a college football coach.

So the photos floating around the wide world of Twitter showing Bryce Benhart in the middle of a group including his parents, Nebraska head coach Scott Frost and NU offensive line coach Greg Austin are appropriate. 

Bryce Benhart is stationed directly in front of the Benhart tree in the photos on Gene Benhart's Twitter account. You can see the angel at the top and not a whole lot else.

The 6-foot-9, 305-pound behemoth from Lakeville, Minnesota, is one of more than 20 recruits expected to sign with Nebraska on Wednesday. In terms of physical stature, he's certainly the biggest. He could turn out to be big in other ways, as well.

For now, he's reveling in the Minnesota 6A football state title his Lakeview North team won a few weeks ago, while at the same time starting his final season of wrestling unbeaten.

In fact, he was in a car headed to a wrestling meet in Bemidji when he spoke with the Journal Star about why he chose the Huskers.

"We came for an official (visit) to the Akron game, and it was packed — the stadium was packed. That was one of the things for me was a nice big fan base and having people there at the games," said Benhart, who got a good look at how his new coaching staff operates. "They're not really screamers — if you mess something up and you're going 100 miles per hour, they won't be super-mad at you. They'll take you off to the side and help you fix it together."

Benhart figures to get his share of attention from the coaching staff once he arrives on campus in the summer. There are open spots to be filled on Nebraska's offensive line. And while it is rare for a true freshman to step in immediately and make an impact in the trenches, a top-65 player nationally (according to 247Sports) with a college-ready frame figures to have as good a shot as anyone.

"What they want to do is, they need people up front, because without offensive or defensive linemen, you can’t run your offense or your defense. So that entices Bryce," said Gene Benhart, Bryce's father. "It’s a no-nonsense, no B.S. (approach) — Scott (Frost) is what he is. He doesn’t try to sell you, he’s not a used car salesman."

Not that Nebraska fans need any selling, but Benhart's coach earlier this year gave quite the endorsement of his massive tackle.

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“I think he’s probably the best lineman in our program’s history, dating all the way back to the 1950s,” Lakeview North coach Brian Vossen said. “He’s just not normal. He’s 6-9, 300 pounds and he’s athletic. They’re like once-in-a-lifetime kids to have in your program.

"A common fan goes and watches a game and they don’t know how to watch linemen. They watch the ball,” he said. “Someone will say, ‘Gosh, it seems like he needs to be nastier.’ I say no. He’s a technician. He takes his steps, drives his hands through the chest of players and he runs his feet. I think he gets that from his wrestling background. He understands leverage and balance."

Benhart hasn't spoken much about his recruitment. That was by design. The Benharts wanted to keep things simple, and they succeeded.

"Just because somebody called and just because somebody was a big school, we didn't let everyone in," Gene Benhart said. "Bryce knew what he wanted, and we talked about it, and we controlled it so it wouldn't get out of hand.

"We didn't need to have 40 scholarship offers, and we didn't need to be a five-star. That's for people that like all that bling-bling."

For a position rarely associated with bling, those are words to a football fan's ears.

Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Hometown (School) Stars
Matthew Anderson OT 6-7 250 Leesville, La. ***
Brant Banks DL 6-8 285 Houston (Westbury Christian) ***
Bryce Benhart OT 6-9 305 Lakeville, Minn. (North) ****
Desmond Bland OL 6-4 300 Flossmoor, Ill. (Arizona Western C.C.) ****
Darien Chase WR 6-1 175 Vancouver, Wash. (Union) ****
Myles Farmer DB 6-3 180 Atlanta (Westlake) ***
Jimmy Fritzsche OL 6-7 250 Greenville, S.C. ***
Jamin Graham OLB 6-6 240 Attalla, Ala. (Etowah) ***
Jackson Hannah ILB 6-3 220 Nashville, Tenn. (Montgomery Bell) ****
Nick Henrich ILB 6-4 210 Omaha (Burke) ****
Chris Hickman TE 6-5 220 Omaha (Burke) ***
Rahmir Johnson RB 5-10 170 Oradell, N.J. (Bergen Catholic) ****
Michael Lynn OT 6-7 300 Englewood, Colo. (Cherry Creek) ***
Luke McCaffrey QB 6-3 185 Littleton, Colo. (Valor Christian) ***
Dedrick Mills RB 5-10 227 Waycross, Ga. (Garden City C.C.) ***
Jamie Nance WR 6-0 170 Blanchard, Okla. ***
Garrett Nelson OLB 6-3 235 Scottsbluff ***
Mosai Newsom DE 6-5 260 Waverly, Iowa (Waverly-Shell Rock) ***
Quinton Newsome DB 6-2 180 Suwanee, Ga. (North Gwinnett) ***
Ethan Piper DL 6-4 275 Norfolk (Catholic) ***
Ty Robinson DE 6-6 285 Gilbert, Ariz. (Higley) ****
Wandale Robinson RB 5-9 180 Frankfort, Ky. (Western Hills) ****
Garrett Snodgrass ATH 6-3 225 York ***
Ronald Thompkins RB 6-0 203 Loganville, Ga. (Grayson) ***
Javin Wright DB 6-3 195 Chandler, Ariz. (Hamilton) ***

Reach the writer at 402-473-7436 or cbasnett@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraCB.


Husker basketball reporter

A Ravenna native, Chris covers the University of Nebraska men's basketball team and assists with football coverage. He spent nearly 10 years covering sports at the Kearney Hub and nearly four years at the Springfield News-Leader in Springfield, Mo.

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