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John Benedetto has mostly stayed away from Land O’Lakes football since retiring after the 2008 season.
The next time he comes to a home game, he’ll likely step into a stadium that bears his name.
Pasco County Schools has recommended that the Gators’ field be renamed John Benedetto Stadium. The proposal is listed on the consent agenda for Tuesday’s school board meeting.
“I’m pretty elated,” Benedetto said Wednesday afternoon. “That would be quite the honor.”
Benedetto spent 32 years as Gators coach and 34 years at the school. He compiled a 196-149 record before his contract was not renewed. The former University of Tampa receiver led Land O’Lakes to 18 winning seasons and ended his career with 12 consecutive trips to the playoffs.
A group of community members, including Rep. Will Weatherford, proposed the idea of honoring Benedetto through the stadium at a school board meeting in March.
“It changed the trajectory of my life, and he did that for literally thousands of people,” Weatherford, a former Gators linebacker, told the board then. “This is what public service is about. This is what being a great teacher is about.”
Benedetto said he’s let his former team move on from him since his retirement. He plays golf with friends and spends time with his wife.
But four years after his last game, he said he was speechless about the thought of the field bearing his name.
“I don’t even have any words,” Benedetto said.
Staff writer Jeffrey Solochek contributed to this report.