(WIVB) — Wisconsin defensive lineman Keeanu Benton was the center of the Badgers’ defensive line in the past two seasons and is ready to make the jump to the NFL.

He made a big jump in his final season of college football last fall, playing in 12 of Wisconsin’s 13 games, tallying 36 tackles, 10 of which were for a loss which was up from five in 2021, and recorded four and a half sacks.

Those numbers were good for a career-high in each of those categories. He prides himself in getting better every day and being versatile on the defensive line.

“Just my knowledge of pass sets in my toolbox I feel like over the years. I’ve gotten more moves in my toolbox (than) my freshman year. I was just a big guy power rusher now I’m feeling the leverage push pulling guys,” Benton said.

Benton was not a highly recruited prospect out of high school, the first Division I player to come out of his Craig High School in Janesville, Wis.

“I take honor in that,” Benton said. “I didn’t think I would be able to go because nobody was interested and I started getting looks later in my career and in my junior year of high school, and I was just blessed to be able to take the next step and go to college.”

Benton, who is a projected third or fourth round pick, stands a 6’4″ and weighs just under 310 pounds. His development in Madison was helped along by going up against a current NFL offensive lineman in Dallas’ Tyler Biadasz. The Badgers are set to have another o-lineman go in this year’s draft in Joe Tippmann.

“I’m blessed to have gone against those guys because I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I was going against some guys, I could just throw around I’m not getting better. The guys they can beat me and the guys that we go back-and-forth throughout practice that’s what I like to see,” Benton said.

With Benton not a top prospect and a guy who might not hear his name called until the draft’s third day, he could be starting up his career in Orchard Park.

Aidan Joly joined the News 4 staff in 2022. He is a graduate of Canisius College. You can see more of his work here.

Josh Reed is an award-winning journalist who has served as News 4’s Sports Director since 2015. See more here.