Hampton wide receiver Benny Haselrig catching eye of colleges

Saturday, October 29, 2022 | 11:01 AM

The struggle was real last season for Hampton all-conference wide receiver Benny Haselrig.

It was his junior season, by far the most important for potential college recruits, and while the Talbots were rolling to one of the best seasons in program history, Haselrig was rarely targeted in the run-first offense.

He missed three early-season games with a quadricep injury and finished with only 16 receptions. Hampton scored 54 offensive touchdowns. Haselrig had one of them.

“It kind of hurt so bad last year,” he said. “We were winning every game, so I can’t complain, but in the moment, it was like, ‘Dang, this is whenever it really counts for me.’ It was tough going through that time. I was really stressed about my own personal goals, but I was still having a fun time winning with all of my best friends. This year I am more involved, which is nice.”

Haselrig is putting together one of the most productive seasons by a Hampton wide receiver in the past two decades.

Entering the regular-season finale against Highlands on Oct. 28, Haselrig had 42 receptions for 626 yards and 10 touchdowns. His 10 TD catches are the most since current Hampton assistant coach Joe Cangilla had 15 in 2006. Haselrig is almost certain to be named first-team all-conference for the third straight season.

“I can’t say enough about him,” Hampton first-year coach Steve Sciullo said. “He’s one of one for us.”

In a must-win game against Mars on Oct. 21, Haselrig was out of this world. He caught seven passes for 225 yards and three touchdowns in a 49-42 victory that put the Talbots (3-2, 5-4 as of Oct. 27) on the verge of returning to the WPIAL Class 4A playoffs. Haselrig flirted with Hampton’s single-game receiving record of 252 yards, set by Cangilla in ‘06.

On Haselrig’s first TD against Mars, he took a screen pass along the left sideline, broke a tackle and raced 36 yards for a score. On his second TD, he beat single coverage and ran under a Joey Mayer deep ball for another 36-yard score.

“They were trying to do man-to-man coverage on him,” Sciullo said. “When you are as good as he is, that’s sort of a form of disrespect. He took it as such.”

Haselrig’s third TD was the most dazzling of them all. He caught a quick screen pass, broke two tackles and outraced the defense while tip-toeing down the left sideline 73 yards to give Hampton a 42-35 fourth-quarter lead.

“What an incredible game,” Sciullo said. “I mean, the kid is a stud.”

Colleges have taken notice. Haselrig said he has scholarship offers from Division II Clarion, where his father Ken was a star wrestler, and Waynesburg. He has made unofficial visits to Pitt, Penn State, Akron, IUP and Cornell. He was scheduled to visit Marshall, where Sciullo played, the final weekend in October.

The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Haselrig, who runs 4.6 40, knows he isn’t “some 6-4 stud wide receiver running a 4.2 40-yard dash.”

He is a shifty runner with excellent vision and feet and an outstanding blocker as part of the Talbots’ reliable run game. He also starts on defense, playing defensive back, safety and safety/outside linebacker, and he returns punts.

“I’ve got to make sure I’m making plays however I can,” Haselrig said.

Haselrig realizes time is running out in the recruiting process. His goal since he started playing football at age 6 was to play at a Division I school. He is weighing his options as far as playing at a D-II or D-III school or walking on a D-I program.

“Since I didn’t have that huge junior year, it’s hard to be on the radar to some of these places that I want to go to,” he said. “It’s a hard decision. I love football, but I don’t know if I would want to play if it was at a D-II or D-III school. My dream has been to play at a D-I school. That’s what I’ve worked for. … I’ve been in contact with Pitt a lot, and we had a conversation about walking on. I feel if the recruiting process ended right now, I would end up walking on there.”


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