By Justin Rodriguez
Section 9 Football Insider
Spackenkill coach Clint DeSouza heard a lot about Kyiev Bennermon before he arrived on campus from Poughkeepsie High three years ago.
Bennermon’s size created quite a buzz and he didn’t disappoint DeSouza when the pair first met.
As a freshman, Bennermon checked in at 6-foot-1, 205 pounds. However, by his own admission, he was out of shape and overweight. Bennermon, known as a basketball player at the time, hadn’t played football in seven years. He also struggled in the classroom.
Yes, Bennermon was a project. That pudgy kid has turned into one of Section 9’s best players and feel good stories.
These days, Bennermon is a chiseled 6-foot-4, 305 pounds. A senior, Bennermon, a defensive tackle/tight end, is regarded as one of Section 9’s best players and he is already committed to play at Division I Boston College, which competes in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“I think Kyiev’s story shows the true value of our education system and what it can do for kids,” DeSouza said. “Here is a kid who had to find his way in a new building, a new environment, a new culture. Kyiev struggled at first. But he picked it up and succeeded, and now he is going to one of the top schools in the world. I get chills just talking about it.”
Few teams had an answer for Bennermon, who dominated opponents with his athleticism and brute force, last season. He finished the season with 55 tackles, four sacks, two blocked kicks and a fumble recovery. Bennermon also can make plays on offense, possessing great hands and footwork for a big man.
Expect more of the same from him this season. Bennermon’s talents attracted attention from Rutgers, Syracuse and UConn. For all of his success, he remains humble.
DeSouza gushes about Bennermon’s smile and humility as much as his big-time game. He is grounded and seemingly is always beaming, always telling jokes, thoroughly enjoying being around his classmates and teammates.
“This is still unbelievable to me with my background growing up,” Bennermon said. “Poughkeepsie is a rough place to grow up. It was a hard place to get out of there. Not a lot of people get out of there. I never thought I would be in the position that I am right now.”
Bennermon’s football career began in Pop Warner in Poughkeepsie. However, he stopped playing at age 10 because he was out of shape. Bennermon arrived to Spackenkill when his parents, Tyrell and Christal, moved from the City of Poughkeepsie to the Town of Poughkeepsie three years ago. According to Kyiev Bennermon, he was running with the wrong crowd in the streets before he moved.
Except for the fact that he asked to play running back, Bennermon and DeSouza hit it off quite well when he arrived to Spackenkill. Bennermon started as a two-way lineman as a freshman, struggling to get into shape, before coming on as a sophomore. Last year served as his breakout year.
Still, before signing on with Boston College, Bennermon had to work on his grades. He had 1.8 GPA as a freshman, but has raised it to a 2.4. Bennermon scored a 1350 on his SAT.
It’s no wonder that DeSouza and so many others can’t help but marvel at Bennermon’s transformation and the bright future that awaits him.
“There is no better feeling in the world than to see what Kyiev has done,” DeSouza said. “I told him to walk around with a big smile on his face because he is going to one of the best schools in the world for free. It’s pretty awesome.”