Q&A WITH BRENT BENEDICT
Brent Benedict has packed up all his things and left Athens. The big offensive lineman has taken up temporary residence at a friend’s house in Roswell. But he won’t be there long. He’ll relocate to Blacksburg, Va., the first week of August. Benedict, who was granted an unconditional release by the University of Georgia after he abruptly quit the team on June 26th, settled on the Virginia Tech Hokies as his transfer destination on Monday. He chose it over Florida, Clemson and a few others. Benedict talked with the AJC on Tuesday in his first extensive interview about the circumstances that led to his decision to leave a program to which he’d been committed since the summer of 2009. He confirmed that it stemmed mainly from a disagreement with new strength and conditioning coordinator Joe Tereshinski over training methods and philosophies. At the same time, Benedict also allowed that what the Bulldogs are doing may work. He also expressed appreciation and gratitude to Georgia for getting him past a severe knee injury and insisted he genuinely wishes for success for the Bulldogs this season and from now on. Following is my conversation with Benedict in Q&A form. . . .
Q: So it’s official then. You’re going to be a Hokie?
A: “Yep, I’m headed up to Virginia Tech. Camp will be starting in August and I’ll be up there then. I talked to Coach [Frank] Beamer and he said that this year I’ll be able to practice but I won’t be allowed to travel or to play. So it’ll be another year and then I’ll have three years after that.”
Q: Did you visit Blacksburg before you committed?
A: “I was up there for visit this past weekend. I got to walk around and check it out a little bit. I actually visited there initially the first time I was recruited.”
Q: So what are your feelings as you leave the University of Georgia?
A: “The University of Georgia was very good to me and my family, Coach [Mark] Richt was good to me and my family and, obviously, Mr. [Greg] McGarity was also. I really appreciate how they handled my release and Coach Richt sticking with me after the knee injury. I’m very grateful for that.”
Q: It seemed abrupt. It seemed like things were fine, your knee was recovering, you were moving up the depth chart. What happened?
A: “It’s just like Coach Richt said and like I said, it was personal issues. And, you know, it just seemed like it was something we weren’t able to resolve. I talked to Coach Richt about it and we both felt it was best for us to go our separate ways.”
Q: Didn’t you actually make the decision first and then wait to talk to Coach Richt when he came back from his mission trip to Honduras?
A: “Yes. I wanted to talk to Coach Richt to see if things could be resolved before I decided to leave. I really felt that was the last-case scenario. That was the last thing I wanted to do was to leave the program. So I talked to Coach Richt and we weren’t able to work things out. So, unfortunately, that’s the way it ended up. But Coach Richt was very gracious and granted me an unconditional release and I’m very grateful for that.”
Q: I understand this mainly had to do with not seeing eye-to-eye with new strength and conditioning coach Joe Tereshinki about training techniques with respect to your injury. I know he’s employing some old-school philosophies with a lot of lower-body work. Is that what this was about?
A: “Coach Tereshinski came in and he has his own philosophy and he and the coaching staff believe that it’s going to work and there’s no reason not to believe that. So, there were a few things going on and I wasn’t able to resolve that. Of course I hope Georgia does well, extremely well. I’ve told all my buddies back there I wish them the best of luck and I really believe it will be successful.”
Q: Before your knee injury you projected as an elite-level left tackle. You were a backup at right guard before you left Georgia. Is your goal to get back to playing tackle at Virginia Tech?
A: “I will do my best to contribute anywhere I can for Virginia Tech when I head up there. If that’s guard, if that’s tackle, it’s fine with me. I think I’ll definitely be in position to [play either]. I’m just hoping they’ll need me to help and allow me to contribute as much as I can.”
Q: Florida was one of the schools to court you this time around. Was it difficult for you to consider the Gators given the intensity of the rivalry between them and the Bulldogs?
A: “The University of Georgia was an awesome place for me coming out of high school. I love the school, I love the people there, I love my teammates. It was very difficult for me to leave. You know, Florida was one of the schools that offered me a scholarship the second time. They’re a big-time SEC school and they’re as strong as anybody is. But, you know, the ultimate decision came down to I felt like Virginia Tech was the best place for me and that’s why I ended up there.”
Q: I know you’re close friends with a lot of your fellow linemen at UGA. How’d they take this news?
A: “I’ll still stay in touch with them. I’ll be lifelong friends with a lot of those guys. I hope they do well this year and I’m sorry I can’t be a part of it with them.”
Q: You know Georgia’s depth situation on the offensive line. Any part of you feel like you left them in a pinch?
A: “It is a little bit thin up there right now and that’s unfortunate. But I think those guys are strong enough that they’ll be able to get through it together.”