first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on October 11, 2017 at 12:30 am Contact: [email protected] | @jtbloss By the argument’s end, one-half of a man’s white T-shirt was bloodied red. A knife stuck out of a shoulder as he sat waiting for an ambulance. A second man was hurt so badly he could barely limp away.In Detroit’s East English Village neighborhood, a few dozen pairs of eyes saw the altercation, each belonging to the 10-year-old football players practicing across the street. A young Parris Bennett was among them. Detroit made Bennett realize the world is not perfect.“It’s a place where you don’t necessarily want go back and live, but you’re proud you grew up there,” Bennett said. “A lot of trouble can find you even though you try not to (find it). And it always found me. But it made me a lot stronger.”Above Bennett’s bed, on the wall of his apartment just beyond Syracuse’s campus, hangs the street signs from the intersection of Seven Mile and Justine. It’s where he spent his childhood on Detroit’s east side. Since then, Syracuse’s (3-3, 1-1 Atlantic Coast) senior linebacker has outgrown an introverted shell and matured into one of college football’s most prominent defensive presences. Bennett led SU with 110 tackles last season and currently remains on pace to surpass that total this year. In the second year of head coach Dino Babers’ tenure, he’s been entrusted with more coverage duties than ever before.“I just wanted to be someone they know is there but they don’t have to worry about,” Bennett said.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAndy Mendes | Digital Design EditorHis stepfather, Antonio Kimble, laid the foundation. A self-proclaimed “football fanatic,” Kimble introduced a seven-year-old Bennett to the game when he married Bennett’s mother. Kimble “wasn’t trying to be his dad,” Bennett said, but Kimble’s role as his stepson’s football coach created friction. They two interacted normally off the field but constantly clashed on it.“I was always trying to get him to focus,” Kimble said. “Because when you ain’t working, somebody else is working. He didn’t understand that at a young age.”Their conflict peaked when Bennett was 13. While his team ran disciplinary sprints at practice, those who went hard enough got to stop. Bennett, though, became fed up. He jogged. Kimble noticed. So, Kimble drove home angry, leaving Bennett and his carpool buddies on the field. It was the same field from which Bennett watched the stabbing a few years before. Bennett called his biological father for a ride.Kimble didn’t talk to Bennett that night, but gave him a lesson the next morning that, in retrospect, stretched beyond the gridiron. Kimble needed to see more effort. He wanted Bennett to want to be the best. The two still talk about football in person after every Syracuse game, as well as over the phone two or three days after, once Kimble can watch a recording at home.“You don’t put nothing in the bank,” Kimble told him, “you can’t get nothing out the bank.”Courtesy of Antonio KimbleKimble worked two jobs to help pay Bennett’s tuition at the University of Detroit Jesuit School, which Bennett attended from seventh through 12th grade. He was just one piece of a strong support system that helped guide Bennett through those years. Their family moved to the safer westside, just a few blocks from the school, when Bennett was in ninth grade. But threats still loomed.Walking to practice one afternoon, Bennett noticed two men on the corner approach him. One came closer, flashed a gun and demanded his phone. Bennett handed it over. They asked for more, but he lied and said he only had clothes in his backpack. They let him go.“I never thought the feeling I’d have when a gun came to chest would be more anger than fear,” Bennett said. “I felt like they caught me out here basically not aware of my surroundings.”When Bennett got to school, he alerted authorities. His mother came and offered to take him home. He refused. He wanted to practice. That same mentality of letting nothing sidetrack him translated toward the playing field, his teammate and friend Dillon Dixon said.It was Bennett’s team, said head coach Oscar Olejniczak. Jesuit’s football program had not been to the playoffs in more than a decade. In his senior year, Bennett led the Cubs to a district championship.Alexandra Moreo | Photo EditorBennett did whatever he was told, Olejniczak said, playing wide receiver even though he was a natural linebacker. He did not miss a summer practice. When his shoulder sustained nerve damage early in a rivalry game against Catholic Central, he didn’t tell anyone. Bennett missed a tackle, and his coach thought something was wrong, but Bennett denied he was in pain and refused to leave the game.“He wasn’t a real rah-rah guy, but when he spoke, everybody listened,” Olejniczak said.Teammates, coaches and family all say the same thing of Bennett: he’s “quiet.” You wouldn’t know he’s home unless you sought a conversation with him, Kimble said. His roommate of four years at SU, fellow senior linebacker Jonathan Thomas, still doesn’t know Bennett’s favorite color.Ironically, it was a conversation that got the quiet kid from Detroit to Syracuse. Former linebacker Cameron Lynch hosted Bennett on an unofficial visit. They played video games at Lynch’s house. They talked about the program, facilities, coaching changes and how Lynch came close to leaving the school. The relationships, like the one with Lynch, made Bennett confident in letting SU be his only official visit.As a freshman, Bennett logged just four tackles in eight games. Former SU offensive lineman Rob Trudo often blocked Bennett on scout defense and recalled his ability to take a hit and get right back up.“He was a big reason why we got better,” Trudo said. “Us older guys talked about the guys who were going to be players when they got older. Parris was definitely one of those names.”During his breakout junior year, as Bennett started recording double-digit tackles almost every game, he realized something had to change. Gone were the days of just being another outside linebacker. He had to speak up.“I’ve always just wanted to do my job, stay low,” Bennett said. “I’ve never wanted to be the front or face of anything.“But at the same time, doing my job is also helping others do theirs.”Andy Mendes | Digital Design EditorAt first it was hard, Bennett said. He learned to answer questions from the underclassmen. Senior middle linebacker Zaire Franklin, Bennett’s best friend, who is the first three-time captain SU has seen since 1945, helped him become more vocal. The difference has been so apparent that, at times, Bennett has even checked Franklin.“Even though people respect me and they’ll listen to me, sometimes it’s like, ‘Ah, well, that’s just Zaire,’” Franklin said. “But when you got a guy like Parris who doesn’t really say too much…when he speaks up it just means that much more.”The linebacking corps of Bennett, Franklin and Thomas comprises the Orange’s top three tacklers. Yet Bennett knows he has six or seven games left with them.“It sucks,” he said.But he also knows NFL scouts have asked SU coaches about him. The league enters his mind every day, although he doesn’t discuss it much with family. Bennett says he just needs a camp invite to land on a 53-man roster.The once-quiet kid from Detroit has overcome a lot to become a star linebacker at Syracuse. And those memories of his city stick with him as much as they define him.“My pride is that I’m from there,” Bennett said. “I’m from the place that made me tough.” Commentslast_img read more

first_imgIn Toomevara, Kilruane McDonagh meets JK Brackens at 2 while North champions Kildangan take on Upperchurch Drombane at 3.30Then at 6pm in Leahy Park Cashel Thurles Sarsfields will meet Mullinahone.For Upperchurch Drombane it’s a second bite of the cherry as they relied on Kildangan or Sarsfields to win their division to bring The Church back into the county series. Upperchurch Drombane Secretary Donal Hayes says this game will make or break their season All the preliminary quarter finals will now take place on Sunday as tonight’s game between Nenagh Eire Óg and Roscrea had been postponed.It’s been refixed for Sunday in Moneygall at 1pm There’s a double header in the Ragg – South winners Killenaule and Portroe meet at 2pm while West champions Eire Óg Annacarthy meet Lorrha at 3.30last_img read more