In his inaugural season, Herm Edwards took over an Arizona State offense that featured pedestrian numbers. Even though, surprisingly, the Sun Devils’ overall offensive numbers dipped by 15 yards per game, the innovation and implementation of a new scheme has the program headed in the right direction.
After its upset loss to San Diego State in September, Edwards knew the offense must find a feature back to serve as the anchor. Though he already had 42 carries in his pocket entering week four, Eno Benjamin was still somewhat underutilized. As a heavy underdog at Washington, Benjamin provided a silver lining in Arizona State’s seven-point loss. His 26-carry, 104-yard performance with a touchdown sparked the rushing game for the rest of the season; Benjamin only fell below the 20-carry mark one time in the final 10 games.
Benjamin finished his sophomore season as a school record holder. He was the first Sun Devil to tote the ball 300 times in a single season, which paved the way to his single-season rushing record of 1,642 yards. His historic efforts earned him a spot on the first team All-Pac 12, as he led the league in rushing, outlasting Arizona’s JJ Taylor by 208 yards.
He also garnered attention from the Football Writers of America Association (second-team), Associated Press (third-team) and College Football News with All-America (honorable mention) praise.
Benjamin’s dynamic ability stems from his knack for making defenders miss. Entering the 2018 postseason, Benjamin recorded 83 missed tackles, second-most in the FBS at the time. Though he doesn’t possess elite elusiveness, Benjamin consistently finds ways to keep tacklers guessing in open space.
He has the subtle footwork to make defenders miss in a phone booth with jump cuts and average lateral mobility. However, his biggest strength when making defenders miss is his elite-level contact balance and body control. Benjamin plays well through contact, showing the ability to consistently keep his feet through trash at the line of scrimmage and when bouncing off of tacklers at the second level.
“He’s not the biggest guy in the world as far as stature,” Edwards said. “But as far as breaking tackles and balance and his ability to make big plays speaks volumes to the type of back he is and some of the awards he was up for last year, says a lot about him and the offensive line.”
Though Benjamin is not expected to run a blazing 40-time (estimated 4.65-4.7 range), the junior prospect hits a second gear of speed in short order after escaping contact.
**Courtesy of Pac-12 Network
Benjamin’s mentality when carrying the rock paves way for his ability to consistently net positive runs. Exercising patience and letting blocks develop in front of him is his style of choice.
Watching Eno Benjamin (3) but here for the excellent execution by the ASU OL. All three interior OL finishing on the play to open up the gates.— Christian Page (@_ChristianPage) June 4, 2019
Side note: As somewhat depicted here, Benjamin displays patience on the majority of his runs to maximize the play outcome. #NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/3XjlEHUdPp
Even though he had two games averaging under three yards per carry (Michigan State and San Diego State), Benjamin’s carries rarely result in negative plays, even if a breach in the offensive line is present.
Benjamin also has a knack of making things happen when the play essentially died before he even got his hands on the ball. pic.twitter.com/k2FdPfeZbO— Christian Page (@_ChristianPage) June 6, 2019
Benjamin is a patient decision maker and lets things open up in front of him before planting his foot. Though his preference is to let blocks develop, he understands situations and knows when to get skinny and hit gaps quickly when time and distance are not on his side.
If he matches his production a season ago (1,642 rushing yards), Benjamin will sit at second on the all-time rushing list in school history. If he repeats his 300-carry season, he will sit at third in that category.
This run embodies Eno Benjamin: patience, tough yards, contact balance, shaking off tackles.— Christian Page (@_ChristianPage) June 6, 2019
Lather. Rinse. Repeat. pic.twitter.com/tNhav03c6f
Benjamin’s production, partnered with his mental and physical makeup, provides him with necessary skills and attributes to enter the season as one of the top backs in college football.
Summer Scouting: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn - Brown enters the 2019 college football season as the best defensive lineman in the SEC...maybe the best player period. @_ChristianPage tells you why. #NFLDraft #Auburn https://t.co/GGqOSUy09l— Cover 1 (@Cover1) May 31, 2019