New Indiana receiver Benker sees Wilson’s offense as the right fit #iufb

Phil Benker won’t be invited to beat teams through single coverage this fall, nor will the game be made easy for him.

As the latest Big Ten commit out of Sandalwood High in Jacksonville, Fla., the future Indiana receiver will be a marked man.

“We have some younger kids who will probably take advantage of Phil being this heavily-recruited receiver,” Sandalwood coach Adam Geis said. “I’ll tell you right now, if he was playing against me, he ain’t beating me.”

That’s because Benker, who flipped his commitment from Central Florida to IU on Monday, is quickly building his profile as one of the more intriguing prospects in North Florida. Benker led Jacksonville area receivers with 59 catches for 1,062 yards and 10 touchdowns as a junior, and he turned that production into offers from UCF, Wake Forest, Duke, Colorado, Troy and Alabama State before deciding on Indiana early this week.

Benker had been committed to UCF since March, when he became the Knights first commit for the 2016 class. He tweeted his commitment switch Monday, calling it a business decision.

From at least one angle, he’s right.

Geis’ Sandalwood program incorporates many of the same concepts as IU coach Kevin Wilson’s up-tempo, pass-happy approach, making the fit under Wilson and offensive coordinator Kevin Johns feel like a natural one, Benker said.

Geis, his coach at Sandalwood, has a feel for what it takes to send players to the next level ready to compete. Geis played receiver at Duke in the mid-1990s under then-offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger, who went on to a long NFL coaching career with the Denver Broncos and Tennessee Titans. Sandalwood’s quarterback, Eli Peters, is an Illinois commit in the same 2016 class.

For Benker, he believes he’s already receiving some of the necessary training to arrive at IU ready to compete.

“That’s what I liked,” Benker said. “That’s what me and coach Johns talked about a little bit. We were just looking at their offense and there are a lot of (similar) things they do. That just gave me more reason to fit in that offense.”

Benker’s best attribute may be his developing size. At 6-foot-2, 195 pounds, Geis sees more room to grow. Benker will graduate high school early, giving him time to arrive in Bloomington for spring ball. With time in a Big Ten weight room, Geis says, Benker could add another inch and around 10 more pounds to his frame.

“He’s your prototypical Florida reciever,” Geis said. “He goes up and gets balls. He’s not a Miami kid running a 4.3 (40-yard dash), but he’s 4.5 in pads, 4.5 out of pads. He’s as fast as he needs to be, but he’s gonna be a big target. He’ll be up to 6-2 1/2, 6-3 and 215 pounds in the next year and a half.”

Benker’s commitment represented the fourth in three days for Indiana, which also took verbals from Ohio cornerback A’Shon Riggins, Georgia defensive lineman Allen Cater and fellow Jacksonville product Kahlil Bryant since Saturday. They’re joined in the 2016 class by Alabama running back Tyus Flakes and Cincinnati prospects Peyton Ramsey, a quarterback, and defensive lineman Ryan Smith.

Along with Wilson’s offensive approach, Benker said he appreciated the family atmosphere he experienced while on a campus visit last weekend. He said he’s already started to form relationships with his incoming classmates and looks forward to arriving in the winter.

“The whole atmosphere of it is awesome,” Benker said. “The second I stepped on campus, I felt at home. Hanging out with the players, seeing who the players are — I talked with a lot of the players and worked out with them. It was one big family and I really like that.”