HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — A speedboat whizzed down the Intercostal Waterway behind Kivon Bennett’s home Tuesday night, drawing his attention away from a sit-down interview with SEC Country.
It was a picturesque south Florida evening, temperatures in the low 80s with a breeze just strong enough to dry perspiration.
“I can’t wait to get up to Tennessee,” said Bennett, a 6-foot-2, 270-pound defensive lineman from three-time defending Florida high school state champion St. Thomas Aquinas. “I’ve been working out every week, five times a week, trying to be ready to show I’m deserving of the opportunity.”
Kimberly Bennett, mother of the incoming Vols freshman, said she’s looking forward to her son being a part of coach Butch Jones’ program, which this year had its highest academic progress rate in school history.
“Coach Jones was one of my key factors when Kivon was choosing,” said Kimberly, a former teacher with a master’s degree from Samford. “I want my son to get a degree.
“That coach will be responsible for my son, and it’s important to have a coach that builds character and builds him into a young man.”
Some were surprised Kivon Bennett didn’t end up at Alabama, where his father, Cornelius, was a three-time All-American before a 15-year NFL career and spot on the 1990s All-Decade Team as a two-time AFC defensive player of the year.
Today’s Alabama is different than the school that Cornelius played for in the 1980s, and Tennessee proved a better fit during the recruiting process.
Cornelius came downstairs to greet his son’s company, politely explained that this is not his story to tell.
“I’ve done my share of football interviews,” Cornelius said with a chuckle. “This is Kivon’s deal now.”
Cornelius has never pressured Kivon — pronounced — Kuh-Von —in terms of football decisions.
Kivon is looking at competing in a combo role as defensive end and defensive tackle at Tennessee in fall camp.
Only 17 and not due to turn 18 until next January, Kivon will report to Tennessee at a time when most others his age would be getting ready for the summer before their senior seasons.
Tennessee signee Kivon Bennett and Mike Griffith talk SEC football and legendary players
Posted by SEC Country on Tuesday, May 16, 2017
Kivon reports to Tennessee on May 29.