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From Minnechaug to NFL: Local athlete reflects on journey

From Minnechaug to NFL: Local athlete reflects on journey
Published: May. 22, 2022 at 11:14 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) -One Springfield native is taking his football talents out west to compete in the NFL for the defending Super Bowl champions.

“They offered me a spot here and so I’m just trying to earn that and just show them what I can do,” said Springfield native Benton Whitley of the Los Angeles Rams.

On Saturday, April 30, Whitley signed with the Los Angeles Rams as an undrafted free agent. Now, he’s trying to use his opportunity to show that he belongs in the NFL.

“I have a lot of work ahead of me and I’m willing to do whatever it takes for me to get myself to that point,” said Whitley.

Whitley graduated from Minnechaug Regional High School in 2016, where he was a two-time, first-team all-western Massachusetts selection, before playing collegiate ball at Holy Cross in Worcester.

Now, he has the support of everyone in the 413, including his former teacher and current Minnechaug head football coach Will Nickerson.

“Hardest worker in the room, you hear that analogy a lot, but that is Benton Whitley,” said Will Nickerson, head football coach, and teacher at Minnechaug Regional High School.

Nickerson watched the defensive lineman excel on the football field and on the wrestling mat, where he won a state title his senior year. The Falcons’ coach said Whitley’s competitive drive is constant, on and off the field.

“Him and other students would wager cookies in the lunchroom who would get a higher test grade so he was competitive in everything he did,” said Nickerson.

In Los Angeles, Whitley is working out with the defending Super Bowl champions, focusing on the details by fine-tuning his technique and learning the playbook.

“Just developing myself mentally, becoming more technical in pass rush, pass coverage things like that,” Whitley said

The budding star shared a message with local players, who he still trains with during his offseason.

“There’s a lot of talent, especially around the Springfield area, western Mass...Go get it, stay focused and just make sure you’re doing everything that you can to get to where you need to be,” Whitley said.