Army's Fritz and Ted Bentler a study in patriotism Print
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Friday, 05 December 2008 07:29
NCAAF Headline News

 WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) -John Mumford will never forget the phone call. Ted Bentler was on the line from Iowa with a most unusual question.
``He wondered if we took transfers,'' said Mumford, defensive coordinator at Army. ``I told him, 'More people transfer out than transfer in. You have to understand that when you transfer to West Point, you can't transfer any hours or anything. You're going to lose years of grades because you have to start out as a freshman.'
``He was like, 'Cool, that's fine with me.'''
And just like that Bentler, a Parade All-American in high school in Davenport, Iowa, said goodbye to a full scholarship at Iowa and hello to Beast Barracks at West Point.
``It's pretty amazing that a guy would give up two years of school and transfer to West Point and serve his country,'' Mumford said. ``He's one of the first, maybe the only one.''
ophomore at Iowa. The Hawkeyes courted Ted before he was old enough to drive and he jumped at the chance to stay home in the Midwest to play a sport he was passionate about.
But when Fritz accepted his appointment to West Point in January 2006, the brothers began talking.
``My brother had an impact on my decision,'' said Ted, who took three months to make the biggest decision of his young life. ``I had so much there. I had a full-ride scholarship. I grew up in Iowa. It was a pretty big thing. I knew that I would be leaving a lot. When I told the coaching staff, they really wanted me to stay. That kind of made my decision a little harder.''
It became a lot easier after his parents visited West Point and fell in love with the place.
Now juniors, the Bentlers anchor the middle of the Army defensive line, and they have excelled. Ted, a noted trash talker on the field in comparison to his more subdued brother, is seventh on the team in tackles with 48 and has 3 1/2 sacks. The two have combined to make eight tackles for losses.
Ted is coming off perhaps his best game at West Point. He made eight tackles, including a sack, in a loss two weeks ago at Rutgers. Now comes the biggest game of his life: Navy on Saturday.
The Bentler brothers don't have a military background - they grew up on a 30-acre farm - but they share the same philosophy.
I wasn't really surprised.'' Fritz said. ``To be honest, if I got a full ride at Iowa or Iowa State, I don't think I would have gone that route. I wouldn't have done it just for football. There are more opportunities than just football.''
Added Ted: ``People thought I was nuts, but it's the challenge - four years for the next 40. At Iowa I had a great time, learned a lot. But I wanted to think about the long term, the rest of my life. What I've learned here and what I'll be able to accomplish after I leave are really exciting and a privilege.
``I knew going in it would be a really hard experience, that it would really test me in multiple ways, and it has,'' said Ted, now 23 and a preseason candidate for the Lott Trophy, which recognizes the top defensive player in country.
Saturday against Navy could be Ted's last college game.
Technically, the five-year clock the NCAA gives athletes to complete four sports seasons will be up because he redshirted at Iowa and played one year before transferring to West Point.
de us a lot closer.''
West Point is preparing an appeal to the NCAA for another season.
``They need to understand that we play against guys all the time that have sixth-year seniors, and here's a guy whose thing was to come to West Point to serve his country,'' Army coach Stan Brock said. ``You talk about the ultimate sacrifice. It really shows what he's all about. Hopefully, they give him a fourth competitive year.''
That, it seems, would make Ted's life even more fulfilling.
``He absolutely loves football,'' Mumford said. ``If he could be a soldier and do Army training and play football, I think he'd feel his life would be complete.''
And if he doesn't receive it, no big deal. Bigger things beckon.
``It might be kind of hard to watch when I know I could be out there,'' Ted said. ``But this has been a great experience. We've had so much fun.
``I look forward to getting the opportunity to serve my country when I leave here, and I think that's pretty cool. I'd rather get a chance to do that. It should be an experience that you'll remember for the rest of your life. It's better than working in an office.''
 

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