DeMatha senior linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley (33) committed to Purdue on Saturday (Photo by Doug Kapustin/The Washington Post).

Ja’Whuan Bentley orally committed to Purdue on Saturday, becoming the fifth DeMatha senior to pledge to a Football Bowl Subdivision program. The senior linebacker made his decision during an official visit to the Purdue campus this past weekend.


“I believe that Purdue is a ‘fire waiting to explode’ and I want to be a part of that,” Bentley said via text on Monday night. “I believe Coach [Darrell] Hazel and his staff going into their second year are putting the pieces in place to make a huge run.”

With offers from Maryland, Virginia, Iowa, Syracuse, Rutgers and West Virginia, among others, Bentley said he narrowed his list down to Syracuse and Purdue before choosing the Boilermakers.

In Bentley, Purdue is getting an aggressive playmaker at 6-foot-3, 249 pounds, a sound tackler and an evolving defender who continues to get better with each year. After earning All-Met honors as a junior following a knee injury, Bentley racked up 113 tackles, including 26 for loss, four sacks and an interception returned for a touchdown in helping lead the Stags to the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference title.

“Number one, he brings leadership to the program,” DeMatha Coach Elijah Brooks said. “I know he’ll only be a freshman next year but he’s mature well beyond his years, and if anyone can make an impact on a program immediately, it’s Ja’Whaun. He’s just a phenomenal player. He’s physical and has a knack for the football.”

Bentley had initially narrowed his list of suitors to Maryland and Iowa back in September, but the linebacker said some of his interests changed, leading him to re-open his recruitment. During the next month, Purdue entered the picture and relentlessly pursued Bentley to join a program that looks to improve upon this season’s 1-11 mark. On Saturday, following a tour of the campus and facilities with his family and after chowing down on a large cookie that had “Boiler Up” written in yellow-and-black frosting, Bentley reciprocated Purdue’s interest with a commitment.

“Everyone believes in the mission and what needs to be accomplished,” Bentley said.

Bentley will join DeMatha teammates Mark Allen (Penn State), Deonte Holden (N.C. State), Cameron Phillips (Virginia Tech), Jarriel Jordan (Richmond), Chris Jones (Wisconsin) and Maryland Gatorade Player of the Year Taiwan Deal (Wisconsin) in the Football Bowl Subdivision ranks next fall.

Quince Orchard players that have committed to Monmouth in the last three years following Kyle Gregory’s decision to commit to the Hawks on Saturday.

-With one week left in the season, check out the latest Top 20 football rankings.

-Click here to see how the local football teams stack up this week in our coaches’ poll.

-Check out Kent Babb’s fascinating piece on the stories behind each of the 78 Heisman Trophy winners.

For the second straight day, area high schools are closed due to the looming winter storm. With a handful of basketball games scheduled for Tuesday, stay tuned to and your school’s athletics page for rescheduling updates.