A three-sport star in high school, Jake Benzinger was a standout star at Mt. Greylock High School in not just football, but also basketball and baseball. In high school, he started for three years on the offensive line and has been named to the First Team All-Berkshire and the All-Western Massachusetts team as a senior.
Like a lot of members of Dave Clawson’s football teams, Benzinger redshirted his first year on campus to build muscle and learn the program while transitioning to school. In his redshirt freshman season, he saw 103 snaps, playing in relief for starters most of the time. His season-high snap count came against Delaware, when he played 47 snaps. Coming into his redshirt sophomore year, Benzinger transitioned into a much larger role and a solidified starter. He started all 13 games at right tackle and was an important part of the line that allowed Wake Forest to set school records for total offense yards, passing yards and points in a season. The offensive line as a whole finished 33rd in the country in sacks allowed. He played a season-high 97 snaps in the Belk Bowl win over Texas A&M in 2017 and was on the field for 987 snaps, tied for the most on the team among offensive linemen.
As a redshirt junior, Benzinger shook up his position on the field following the injury of Justin Herron, shifting over to left tackle. He started all 13 games as a senior, finishing second on the team with 1,116 snaps. His snaps against Notre Dame (99), Duke (83) and Memphis (101) led the team. Coming into his redshirt senior year on a 26-game starting streak, Benzinger looks to lead a more experienced team to their fourth consecutive bowl. Coming off of three consecutive bowl wins, there’s certainly a lot to look forward to for Benzinger and the football team.
Samantha Wexler: Walk me through last year’s season, how did the team feel about it and what did you all take away to build on?
Jake Benzinger: Many times throughout the 2018 season, it seemed like our backs were always against the wall, but we responded with clutch victories when we needed them most. Bowl eligibility is now a standard in our program, so we were going to do whatever it took to get us playing in late December. Winning the Duke game last year was a look into reaching our full potential. We need to have that same urgency for the 2019 season like we did for the must-win Duke game last year.
SW: All of the football facilities are definitely top notch and still growing. How will those help with both the future and the present of Wake Forest football?
JB: Player Development is super important at Wake Forest, so having facilities that help players get ready to play in the ACC faster are a big plus. The McCreary Indoor and an exclusively football weight room have made it easier for players to invest in improving their game. New facilities will definitely help in the recruiting game for the future of the program, but they have already made a big impact on the current team.
SW: There has been a very high standard of play under this coaching staff, having won three straight bowls, what in particular do they bring to the program to continue to compete in the ACC?
JB: Coach Clawson demands a high level of accountability from every person in the program and that accountability has built a team culture that will continue as long as there is strong leadership. As well as being well prepared for every scheme and game plan, the coaching staff has helped build a winning team culture.
SW: What’s your favorite Wake Forest football memory so far?
JB: The feeling after winning the Belk Bowl in Charlotte was probably my favorite memory on the football team so far. Then when my family and I went out to eat in Charlotte after the game, we received a standing ovation from people in the restaurant. It was an unreal showing by Demon Deacon nation at the game.