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January 13, 2009

Season recap: Bennett Fulper

College football coaches haven't routinely made a habit of recruiting Gretna (Va.) High School.

Gretna, a town of approximately 1,300 people, has regularly turned out powerhouse football teams in one of Virginia’s smallest classifications. But that hasn’t translated to recruiters making the trip to Gretna.

“We’re out here in the southern part of the state between Lynchburg and Danville,” Gretna coach Chris Thurman said. “It’s not the biggest metropolis. ... [College coaches came] to Lynchburg to see [Virginia Tech tight end commitment] Logan Thomas and bypassed us to go to Danville and see [Virginia Tech running back recruit David Wilson]. So [our area is not] really the hotbed like Northern Virginia or the beach (Hampton Roads). When guys come out here to look at one of our kids, he’s gotta be special.”

In Thurman’s opinion, Maryland offensive line commitment Bennett Fulper fits that bill. The 6-foot-5, 295-pounder pledged to the Terps a few days before Christmas. The Maryland coaches offered Fulper a scholarship in November after seeing his highlight tape.

As a senior, Fulper started for the Hawks at offensive and defensive tackle. During his previous three seasons on varsity, Fulper was Gretna’s starting center.

Fulper paved the way for Gretna’s 13-1 season, which culminated with a win over Floyd County in the Virginia Group A Division 2 state championship game.

Thurman said winning a second-straight state title was a fitting end to Fulper’s high school career.

“That kid has played for four years. In that time here, we went 47-4,” Thurman said. “That kid plays his butt off in every football game. He started off that way as a freshman. There are very few times you can take a freshman and he gets after people. In that first year I was hoping he could hold his own and he did more than that as a freshman.”

In Gretna’s spread offense, Fulper, as a right tackle, was charged with making a lot of audibles at the line. Thurman thinks that intelligence, in addition to Fulper’s strength and versatility, make him a good fit for center at UM.

“I think they’re going to move him back to center,” Thurman said. “They really needed some guys to add depth at the center position. They liked to see him move outside; they saw he had the feet to move outside, and the fact that he [has already] played center.”

Thurman thinks Fulper (who sports a 4.2 grade point average, according to the coach) will prove to be a great fit at Maryland.

“He’s a kid that will represent the University well,” Thurman said. “He’s a church-going kid. He’s going to be third in his class. He’ll be [an asset] to the University as an athlete and as a person.”

• Click here for Fulper's commitment story.

• Click here for a Roanoke Times story on Fulper and Gretna.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:52 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Season recaps

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About Matt Bracken

Matt Bracken was a lightly recruited football and tennis prospect out of East Lansing (Mich.) High School in 2001, but spurned all (nonexistent) scholarship offers to attend the University of Michigan. Matt graduated from UM in 2005, earned a master's degree in new media journalism from Northwestern University in 2006, and spent the first 11 months of his career as an online producer / videographer / blogger at the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson. He has worked at The Baltimore Sun since July 2007, where he currently serves as the deputy sports editor for digital.

High school recruiting database
Area high school commitments -- 2009
Area high school commitments -- 2008
Maryland's 2011 football commitments
Maryland's 2010 football recruiting class
Maryland's 2009 football recruiting class
Maryland's 2008 football recruiting class

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