By John ‘The Dude’ Hardiman, 985TheSportsHub.com
In any business it’s tough to come across natural born leaders, but the New England Patriots may have struck gold with Purdue linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley.
It’s rare for a player in any collegiate sport to be a two-time captain, never mind a three-time captain like Bentley was during his four years as a starting linebacker for the Boilmakers.
During a recent presser Bentley was asked about what it meant to him to be a captain for three straight years at Purdue.
“It definitely means a lot. It means a lot, No. 1, because the players select it, and especially my first time being a captain as a sophomore. That really was a big deal because you’re leading guys who are sometimes five years older than you and for them to trust you with that kind of responsibility definitely shows you how much they believe in you and what they think you’re capable of,” said Bentley.
The Patriots make it a point to draft and sign players whose leadership qualities translate on and off the field and possess the kind of character they value as a franchise.
You could say that the Patriots drafted Bentley for his physical and mental abilities on the field, in addition to his personality characteristics like leadership, toughness and smarts.
Bentley was a four-year starter at Purdue, who later became the signal caller on the defensive side of the ball – which Patriots head coach Bill Belichick values as much as anything. It shows that the player has a clear understanding of the defense, its sets and how and why the coaching staffs wants to operate their given system. Plus he has the ability to adjust play calls given the situation and the “tells” of the opposing offense.
Linebackers tend to drop back in coverage at times, which Bentley is comfortable with.
“That’s part of the game. As [a linebacker], that’s something you have to be able to do well in coverage, so I feel comfortable doing it all.”
And Bentley isn’t wasting any time in getting accustomed to the “Patriot Way.”
“I’ve definitely watched a lot of football, so I’ve seen a lot of guys from the Patriots, even back to Tedy Bruschi, Adalius Thomas days,” said Bentley. “Especially Rosevelt Colvin, Rob Ninkovich, guys like that – I definitely watched a lot of ball, watch some guys play, the history of backers.”
He even has a favorite, who just so happens to be his newest teammate as a member of the Patriots, Dont’a Hightower.
“Dont’a Hightower is one of my favorites. It’s definitely a good system as far as the linebacker is concerned. I’m just excited to get to work.”
More on Bentley from director of player personnel for the New England Patriots, Nick Caserio:
“Ja’Whaun Bentley from Purdue – this kid’s got a unique story. I’m sure you guys will talk to him here at some point, but this guy is an awesome kid. Four-year starter, three-time captain, which there’s not a lot of people that can say that. A pretty impressive kid, been through a lot on a personal level, but a good football player, very smart, signal caller, ran the defense there at Purdue, played for a couple of different coaches, a couple of different staffs. We brought him in here for a visit here to Foxboro. He was awesome. He was really, really impressive. He was somebody that we felt comfortable about and with, and then followed that up with the pick of Christian Sam.”
John Hardiman is a Digital Producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for John? Hit him up on Twitter @HardiDude or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.