Jimmy Bennett left no doubt what his plans are after he was granted a sixth season of eligibility by the NCAA.
“That was the idea when I applied for it,” Bennett said. “I had shoulder surgery (on Dec. 17). I want to come here in the summer, work as hard as possible, start playing and see how it goes for the future.
“I just found out today. I had heard through the grapevine and I found out from compliance (Thursday). I was freaking excited. I was kind of surprised. I have lost so much time due to injury that it kind of felt like I needed that extra year.”
Bennett was a non-medical redshirt during the 2008 season before missing the entire 2009 season due to a knee injury and was limited to just seven games during the next two seasons as a result of knee and thumb injuries.
He was able to play all 12 games for the first time in his career but Bennett was slowed by a shoulder issue which limited how much lifting he was able to do. He finally had surgery to fix the problem. He is expected to make a full recovery and be able to return to a normal weightlifting routine.
“I couldn’t lift so I had to get it fixed,” Bennett said. “I couldn’t bench or do the overhead presses since early in the season. Coming off ACL surgery and not being able to lift, it may have affected me some (during the season).”
With Bennett returning, UConn has six offensive linemen returning who started games for the Huskies during the 2012 season. Bennett believes that continuity should result in better play from the offensive line.
“With all the guys we have coming back on offense, we have most of our coaches back and that is a huge part of what goes on when we are on the field,” Bennett said. “We have the team chemistry.”
Bennett is encouraged by what he has heard from new offensive coordinator T.J. Weist.
“He is taking us in a really good direction,” Bennett said. “We still have a lot of our coaches with us and it is going to help with. I think it is really going to work out well for us this year.”
UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni confirmed on Feb. 6 that Bennett was granted the additional year of eligibility but he would be up to Bennett to decide if he wanted to play the extra year.
"Jimmy’s been through so much, so many injuries that it is a great thing for him to have this opportunity," Pasqualoni said after the press conference on national signing day. "Now Jimmy’s got to weigh all the factors because the risk of injury when you play football is still there. It is great he got the sixth year but he is going to have to really, really want to do this, go through another year that you have to go through so we are very happy for Jimmy that the NCAA has given him this opportunity.
"My sense is that he is going to want to do it but I don’t want to jump the gun and be premature. It is going to be his decision. I have been through this before with players who has had numerous injuries, it has to be Jimmy and his family who ultimately make this decision."
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