Wisconsin football defensive lineman Keeanu Benton enjoyed a very nice season and was, again, underappreciated. I think Benton could have very well entered his name into the NFL Draft and been selected.
But according to Zach Heilprin, from the Wisconsin Sports Zone Network in Madison, Benton is ‘planning on’ coming back to Wisconsin for his senior year.
#Badgers DL Keeanu Benton plans to return for his senior year. Still waiting on his NFL draft evaluation.
— Zach Heilprin (@ZachHeilprin) December 14, 2021
In the tweet, he says he is still waiting on his NFL Draft evaluation. I’d imagine if it came back higher than he expected, he may still jump ship and declare for the Draft, which is something every player should do if they feel their draft stock is high enough.
But this is potentially some huge news for the 2022 Wisconsin football team. Keeanu Benton has been a huge piece to the Badgers’ top-ranked defense this year in both the run and pass defense. He is consistently double-teamed, allowing linebackers like Leo Chenal and Jack Sanborn to shoot the gaps and make stops in the backfield.
He’s also been a presence in opposing teams’ backfields pressuring the quarterback. He tallied five tackles for a loss and 2.5 sacks this year. It may not seem like eye-popping numbers, but when you get as much attention as Benton does, it’s tough to put up those numbers. Benton really did have a great season.
Another reason Benton’s return would be huge is the depth on the defensive line. Senior defensive tackle Bryson Williams still has another year of eligibility, but there’s been no word yet on what he plans to do next season. If he and Benton were to leave, that would leave the Badgers very thin at the defensive tackle position. That would leave the Badgers with Gio Paez and incoming freshman Curtis Neal, who is still coming off of a torn ACL that made him miss his senior season.
Another year of Benton and Williams would be a huge boost to this Wisconsin defensive line and defense overall.