Kolodziej, now at Stanford, was Wisconsin's strength coach when Benton arrived on campus in Madison, Wis., in 2019 and started six of the Badgers' 13 games as a true freshman.
But the 2001 seventh-round draft pick out of Wisconsin by the Giants who spent a decade in professional football – including as a defensive lineman for the Vikings in 2006 under then-defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin – knows what it takes to play in the NFL.
And Kolodziej, now the defensive line coach at Stanford, immediately saw Benton had what it takes.
"Initially, I was the strength coach when he first came in," Kolodziej said. "I didn't get a chance to go on the road and recruit him. I knew about him because the AD/basketball coach down there (Ben McCormick) was a backup quarterback, we played together at Wisconsin. That's how I really heard about him, was through him and him bringing him up. When you first saw the kid, you were like, 'Damn, he looks like and NFL-ready body right now, frame-wise.'"
And it didn't take long for the freshman to make an impact.
Despite being the first athlete from his high school to go to a Division I program in any sport in 30 years, Benton had 12 tackles, including four for a loss, and two sacks as a true freshman defensive tackle.
When Kolodziej took over as the Badgers' defensive line coach in 2021, Benton took off and became a dominant player.
"Anybody that says (he can't rush the passer), clearly didn't watch his tape. I don't have the numbers in front of me, but I would put his QB hits and pressures against any interior d-lineman," Kolodziej said. "If you watch the tape, he is constantly harassing the quarterback. I know he had over 10 QB hits, not including sacks. Anybody that claims that, it's a lazy analysis that somebody else put out there, maybe from when he was a sophomore, right?