Brian Bennett, The Man Who Oversees WVU’s Football Recruiting – Part 1

Brian Bennett

Brian Bennett, The Man Who Oversees WVU’s Football Recruiting – Part 1

(Editor’s Note – I recently got a chance to sit down with Brian Bennett, who is the new director of player personnel for the Mountaineer football program.

For nearly 45 minutes we discussed various aspects of his life, what brought him to West Virginia and also took a deep dive into WVU’s recruiting, which is the aspect of the program he oversees.

This is the first in a series of articles with Bennett on what West Virginia’s football recruiting will look like in the Neal Brown era.

Today we start with Brian himself.)

* * * * * *

Brian Bennett

Brian Bennett has been training for his current job as the director of player personnel for West Virginia football since he was a teen.

Born and raised in the football-mad region of Mobile, Ala., he developed a passion for all things gridiron at a young age, having been involved with the sport from the time he was five years old.

When he wasn’t playing linebacker at McGill-Toolen Catholic High School, he was browsing the Internet watching prominent prospects from around the country.

“I graduated from high school the same year as Noel Devine,” said Bennett of the future Mountaineer running back, who graduated from North Fort Myers High School in 2007. “I remember watching his highlight film doing what I thought was an evaluation. Obviously looking back, it’s funny what I thought was an evaluation then compared to what it really is.

“I watched a lot of the top recruits at that time, not just Noel. I found it very interesting.

“I also played against Pat White when he was at Daphne, which is just across the Bay from Mobile,” Bennett added. “It’s such a coincidence that two of the players I watched during that time ended up at West Virginia, and now I’m here as well.”

A neck injury during  his junior season at McGill-Toolen kept Brian off the playing field, but it didn’t diminish his thirst for football. Medically cleared the next year, he was back at linebacker for the Panthers as a senior.

“I was a tough kid, a hard worker, and I really loved the game, but I wasn’t very talented,” admitted Bennett, who was a 230-pound middle linebacker during his playing days.

After high school, he moved on to Birmingham-Southern College in part to continue his football career at the Division III program. It was also one of the best liberal arts colleges in the south, which fit Bennett’s strong academic transcript. After one season playing for BSC head coach Joey Jones, who later became the head coach at South Alabama, Bennett’s previous medical issues resurfaced but were even worse this time. He was forced to give up his playing career.

That didn’t mean he was done with football, though. He served as a student-assistant coach at Birmingham-Southern for a year before getting a chance at a similar position at the University of Florida in 2009. There the Gators’ defensive coordinator Charlie Strong mentored him.

“I worked for nothing. I went to school and then did a little of everything for the football program. I was the best coffee-runner on the planet, the best staple-boy in the SEC,” Bennett chuckled. “I worked my tail off there, and when Coach Strong went to the University of Louisville (as head coach in 2010), I went up there with him. I followed him to Texas when he got that job (in 2014), and I was there a little over a year.”

Along the way, Bennett also obtained two degrees from U of L, a bachelor’s of science in psychology in 2011 and a master’s in sports administration in 2013. In addition, he met his wife, Sarah Hall, who is currently finishing up medical school with an emphasis on eventually being an emergency room physician.

Though the coaching side appealed to Bennett, recruiting always intrigued him as well. When he got an opportunity for a job on the recruiting side, it intrigued him.

“I got a call about a job at Troy that they were creating,” he recalled. “They hadn’t had a director of player personnel before, and I was ready to get out of the GA/analyst’s life and into a full-time role, so I was interested.

“I went and interviewed and was offered the job,” added the 30-year-old Bennett. “After the interview with Coach (Neal) Brown, I would have carried the U-Haul on my back to get there for that job. I was so impressed with him. Also, it was just a two-and-a-half hour drive from my hometown of Mobile, so I thought it was the perfect opportunity.

“The rest is history. I was with Coach Brown at Troy for four successful years – well, one transition year (4-8 in 2015) and then three successful years (10-3 in 2016, 11-2 in 2017 and 10-3 in 2018) – and then followed him here to Almost Heaven.”

(In our next installment, we’ll look at what Bennett’s job as a director of player personnel entails.)


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Home Page forums Brian Bennett, The Man Who Oversees WVU’s Football Recruiting – Part 1

Home Page forums Brian Bennett, The Man Who Oversees WVU’s Football Recruiting – Part 1