Friday, April 3, 2009

Jay Cutler and Earl Bennett — together again

Know who's the happiest man in Chicago right now?

Earl Bennett. Because his personal quarterback is coming to town.

When Cutler was starting his senior season at Vanderbilt with six total wins in 34 starts, Bennett joined his receiving corps as a true freshman.

He quickly became Cutler's favorite target, hauling in 79 passes for 876 yards and nine touchdowns. He caught the touchdown pass that put the Florida game into overtime in the Swamp, though Vanderbilt was going for two and the win until Bennett was flagged for throwing up the celebratory six-shooters in one of the worst calls in college football history. In the Kentucky game, Bennett caught five TD passes from Cutler, and against Tennessee he broke a long losing drought with 168 reception yards and the winning touchdown.

How good was Bennett? After Cutler left, he became the SEC's all-time leading reception leader in only two more seasons despite being constantly double-teamed and having Chris Nickson as his primary quarterback.

When he declared himself eligible for the NFL draft, Bennett called Cutler and asked him to be his quarterback at pro day in Nashville. Cutler agreed, even working out with him for three weeks leading up to the event. On pro day, Bennett caught every pass and impressed scouts.

"Anytime you play with a pro quarterback like Cutler it is great," Bennett said after that workout. "He throws great balls and once you get your timing down, everything is cool. I'm thankful that he came out here."

That day, Cutler said he was the one who felt the pressure.

"I was a little nervous today," Cutler said. "I think he was more relaxed than I was because I had a lot of responsibility on my shoulders to give him good balls. He made some catches for me and it turned out really well."

"He is such a great kid," Cutler said of Bennett then. "He is a pro. In Denver we talk about being a pro and doing things the right way, and Earl does it on and off the field."

The Bears drafted Bennett in the third round. He struggled in his rookie season, making the active roster late in the year and failing to catch a pass.

Bet he catches quite a few this season.

No comments: