Eden Prairie defensive back Benny Sapp III, a Gophers football recruit, will miss the remainder of his senior season after surgery to repair cartilage in his left knee.
Sapp, a defensive back renowned for great speed, endured two previous surgeries on the same knee to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Eden Prairie coach Mike Grant said Sapp’s ACL was not affected.
Sapp, whose father, Benny II, was a former Vikings cornerback, started his prep career at St. Thomas Aquinas, a national power in Florida. He played as a freshman and caught the eye of top college programs during spring ball that year. In all, he received 21 offers that spring from college football’s royalty, reportedly including Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, Ohio State, Michigan, Miami and Oklahoma.
But he tore his ACL twice, missed his sophomore and junior seasons and the offers became scarce. Moving to Minnesota, Sapp III committed to P.J. Fleck as the first member of the Gophers’ 2018 recruiting class. He made the Star Tribune preseason Dream Team and figured to give 10-time state champion Eden Prairie a boost.
Sapp III played in the first two games as a defensive back and punt returner then approached Grant in warmups before a Week 3 game at Prior Lake.
“He said, ‘My knee feels weird,’ ” Grant said. “I was thinking that it was nothing but then the trainer came over. Then the doctor. Then his dad. I feel sick for him. He’s a great player and a better person. He’s devastated; he feels like he let the team down.”
Grant said the family opted to repair rather than trim the cartilage, a decision that meant missing the remainder of the prep season. Grant said Sapp will be “fully healthy by Christmas.”
“It’s the best possible outcome for him even if it’s the worst possible outcome for us,” Grant said. “Leaving cartilage in a 17-year-old’s knee is a good thing.”