Oak Park has been a continual source of talent for colleges over the last few seasons, and one of the underclassmen next up at the school is sophomore offensive lineman Rayshaun Benny, quickly gaining steam after a season in which he made an impact on both sides of the ball for the Knights.
That has led to a spring evaluation period where the 6-foot-4, 260-pound Benny has been adding major offers with regularity. That includes Michigan, which offered at the end of April.
“It means a lot to be offered by them,” he said. I was born and raised here.”
Benny said he might visit the Wolverines this month.
“I hope to see their new facility and I also want to see the Big House,” he said.
During the fall, Benny manned left tackle for Oak Park. The Knights were a contender and entrusted that all-important position and the task of protecting quarterback Dwan Mathis, a Georgia signee, to a kid who had played junior varsity the year before.
“We saw he was really athletic,” Oak Park assistant coach Will McMichael said. “We actually tried him at tight end first. He wasn’t quite fast enough to play there every down, but we saw his blocking skills and the aggressiveness to play left tackle for us.”
Benny played well in big games against Utica Eisenhower, his first varsity game, and in a late-season win over Clarkston. The confidence to handle those tests against good teams came last August.
“I think what really got him pumped up was our scrimmage,” McMichael said. “We scrimmaged River Rouge, and the young man he was going against wound up signing with Clemson (Ruke Orhorhoro) and he pretty much held his own, even dominated a little bit, and that gave him confidence he could handle the load at left tackle.”
Now Benny is seeing his own recruitment take off. He has had role models to look up to on the line of scrimmage in the form of older teammate Justin Rogers, one of the top recruits in the country, and Marquan McCall, who played at Oak Park and is now at Kentucky.
“It was actually helpful to have, not just Justin, but also Marquan, because he was going through it when Rayshaun was at our middle school,” McMichael said. “He played in our middle-school program so that helped really develop him and he’s been in our system for three years. So seeing Marquan and Justin go through the process helped and Justin really showed him the ropes of how to handle talking to coaches.”
Benny also has taken it upon himself to take all the steps necessary to keep improving on and off the field.
“He has been working real hard,” McMichael said. “He wanted to prove he was worthy of all the accolades. He has a 3.7 (grade-point average) in the classroom. He was a hard worker already and he’s working harder now to show that college coaches didn’t make a mistake offering these scholarships. A lot of the time, offers make kids slack, but he’s turned it up even more now.”
Benny is ranked by 247Sports as the No. 9 sophomore in the state of Michigan.
UM offers 2021 defensive lineman
Hyde Park (Mass.) Belmont Hill sophomore Ikenna Ugbaja, a 6-foot-2, 270-pound defensive tackle, was offered by Michigan.
The Wolverines join in-state programs Boston College and Massachusetts on Ugbaja’s list.
Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown, who also serves as area recruiter in Massachusetts, offered Ugbaja the scholarship.
Ugbaja said he plans to visit Michigan, but does not have a date set up yet.
4-star Arizona WR offered
Brenden Rice, a four-star wide receiver from Chandler (Ariz.) Hamilton, was offered by Michigan.
Rice is a 6-foot-3, 208-pound prospect with track speed (10.78 in the 100-meter dash).
Oregon, UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State, California and others also have offered.
Rice is the son of NFL Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice.
Allen Trieu covers Midwest football recruiting for 247Sports. He has been featured on the Big Ten Network on its annual Signing Day Show. His Michigan and Michigan State recruiting columns appear weekly at detroitnews.com.