Saturday, April 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Offensive lineman Caleb Benenoch finds right sport, and Bucs

TAMPA — Caleb Benenoch's path to the NFL draft started with a miscommunication.

Benenoch was born in Nigeria but living in Katy, Texas, when he asked his mother to sign him up for football. She was excited; why not let him play soccer?

"We got out here, and it was a completely different game than what we thought it was," Benenoch said. "I fell in love with it really fast, and I've been playing ever since."

The 6-foot-5, 305-pound Benenoch will continue do so with the Bucs after they drafted the UCLA offensive lineman Saturday in the fifth round (No. 148 overall).

Once his family figured out that football meant something different in America, his parents had no concerns with his new sport. He was always big, and he already had good footwork, so he played fullback and nose tackle while continuing with soccer in the offseason.

"I just wanted to make friends, honestly," Benenoch said. "(Football) was what my friends were doing. It made me happy to be out there playing, having fun with my friends in school."

While he wasn't bad at the sport his mom called football, he grew into a high school offensive lineman and blossomed into a four-star recruit.

Benenoch started 35 games in a row in three seasons at UCLA. Last fall, he was part of a Bruins offensive line that allowed only 14 sacks, second-fewest in program history.

"He's got a lot of experience," Bucs general manager Jason Licht said. "He's tough. He's athletic. He's got a chance."

That's because of Benenoch's versatility.

He spent most of his time at right tackle at UCLA but also started four games at guard. He said he doesn't have a preference, and Licht said he has value at both positions; the coaching staff will debate where he should play.

"We feel like he can be a guard or a tackle," coach Dirk Koetter said. "That'll sort itself out … Swing guys at this point are crucial."

Benenoch's soccer background might still be paying off; his 4.98 second time in the 40-yard dash was third-quickest among all offensive linemen at the NFL scouting combine.

The Bucs selected Oklahoma linebacker Devante Bond in the sixth round, 183rd overall, then added another blocker with their final pick, drafting Northwestern's Danny Vitale 197th overall. The 6-2, 235-pound Vitale becomes the only fullback on the roster but will likely get looks at tight end and special teams, too.

Contact Matt Baker at [email protected]. Follow @MBakerTBTimes.

Comments
Bucs not listening to outsiders, but expectations remain high for 2018

Bucs not listening to outsiders, but expectations remain high for 2018

TAMPA —Wait 'til this year seems to be the refrain at One Buc Place, even though the team was strangled by expectations in 2017. But a solid offseason that has already brought a rebuilt defensive line, new center and place-kicker has renewed th...
Updated: 16 minutes ago
Shaquem Griffin: ‘I’m not just a feel-good story’

Shaquem Griffin: ‘I’m not just a feel-good story’

TAMPA — Shaquem Griffin wakes up knowing each day will be better than the last and barely unable to wait until tomorrow."It's just a whirlwind,'' Griffin said.On Thursday, he will walk the red carpet with his family, including his twin brother,...
Updated: 9 hours ago
NFL draft confessions: The Bucs set the trap, and I took the cheese on Johnny Manziel

NFL draft confessions: The Bucs set the trap, and I took the cheese on Johnny Manziel

TAMPA — The NFL draft is one big game of Liar's Poker. Deal me out.Even the guys with a seat at the table don't know when someone is bluffing.Bucs general manager Jason Licht knows that the team's No. 7 overall pick this year will be affected b...
Published: 04/20/18
Bucs’ Jameis Winston, Mike Evans catch Miami Heat game from courtside

Bucs’ Jameis Winston, Mike Evans catch Miami Heat game from courtside

We've seen Jameis Winston and Mike Evans bonding this offseason, going to Texas A&M pro day together, among other events. The two Bucs stars and their significant others double-dated Thursday night, getting courtside seats to watch the Miami Heat in ...
Published: 04/20/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Bucs have a tough start to their schedule

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Bucs have a tough start to their schedule

The NFL did the Bucs no favors with their 2018 schedule, Rick Stroud says, making them open at New Orleans, followed by home games against Philadelphia and Pittsburgh Plus, linebacker Kendall Beckwith had surgery to repair a broken ankle, p...
Published: 04/20/18
Here’s the Bucs’ full 2018 schedule

Here’s the Bucs’ full 2018 schedule

TAMPA — How good can the Bucs be in 2018? Fans will get a good sense in the first three weeks, as Tampa Bay opens the year with three of its toughest games, all against reigning division champions. The Bucs open 2018 in New Orleans on Sept. 9 ...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith fractured ankle in car accident

Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith fractured ankle in car accident

TAMPA – Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith had surgery to repair a broken ankle he suffered in a car accident in Louisiana last week, putting his status for the start of the season in question.Beckwith was passenger in car driven by former L...
Published: 04/19/18
Bucs’ home schedule leaked: Hosting Eagles in Week 2

Bucs’ home schedule leaked: Hosting Eagles in Week 2

The 2018 NFL schedule won't be released until 8 p.m. tonight, but the Bucs' eight home games were posted early — and presumably accidentally — on the team's site, showing what would be a daunting start to the upcoming season.Multiple outl...
Published: 04/19/18
Is Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick a first-round fit for the Bucs?

Is Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick a first-round fit for the Bucs?

Minkah FitzpatrickPosition: SafetyCollege: AlabamaHeight/Weight: 6-1, 201Draft projection: First roundWhy Fitzpatrick makes sense for the BucsOne of the Bucs' biggest needs is to improve their secondary. Fitzpatrick is a playmaker, arguably the best ...
Published: 04/17/18
Jameis Winston set to make $21 million in 2019 as Bucs pick up his option

Jameis Winston set to make $21 million in 2019 as Bucs pick up his option

TAMPA — Jameis Winston is headed for a big pay day after this season, whether he gets a contract extension or not.The Bucs on Tuesday picked up the fifth-year option on Winston's rookie contract worth $20.9 million for 2019. The deal is not gua...
Published: 04/17/18