Alonso QB C.J. Bennett commits to South Alabama



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Fri. January 29, 2010 | Eduardo A. Encina

Alonso quarterback C.J. Bennett's recruiting process has faced more obstacles than most, but this year's Guy Toph Award winner and one of Hillsborough County's most prolific passers has found a college home.

While on his official visit to South Alabama Friday, Bennett gave his oral commitment to the school.

"It just felt right," Bennett said by text message.

Bennett, who owns more than 6,000 passing yards and 60 touchdowns in his high school career, also said having five years of eligibility while South Alabama, which is located in Mobile, makes the transition to Division I was important.

Chip Bennett, C.J.'s father, said South Alabama has been his son's favorite since he took an unofficial visit there earlier this month.

The 6-foot Bennett made an official visit to USF last weekend, but didn't come away with an offer from new Bulls coach Skip Holtz' new regime. Weeks earlier, right before the Bulls fired coach Jim Leavitt, Bennett received an official visit invitation and was hoping for an offer on that visit.

East Carolina, Holtz's old team, came into the picture late, asking for game film last week. Bennett was interested, Chip Bennett said, but the Pirates only offered Bennett a preferred walk-on spot.

He committed to Wyoming in the summer, then decommitted midway through the high school season, citing the distance from home as his reason. He still made an official visit to Wyoming earlier this month, but ruled them out upon his return.

This week he also made an official visit to Murray State before his official to USA.

Bennett also participated in a reality TV show called "The Ride," which highlighted several "under the radar" quarterback recruits. Bennett made it to the final two contestants, but it didn't help his recruiting.

But in the end, the Jaguars wanted the Alonso quarterback the most. He had long developed a strong relationship with South Alabama offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Greg Gregory, who was an assistant at USF from 2005-'08.

South Alabama, which just began playing football in 2009, going 7-0 in its first season, will complete its transition to Division I in 2013.

-- EDUARDO A. ENCINA (eencina@sptimes.com)

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