A.J. Benson enjoying life with Hungary’s Miskolc Steelers

For the past two years, Hungary’s Miskolc Steelers have been famous for the great chemistry between quarterback Vasyl Yordan and wide receiver Troy Rice. However, late last season Yordan was given more options with the arrival of receiver A.J. Benson.

Benson definitely made an immediate impression. He scored two touchdowns in his first two game and the second one had the greatest impact. That reception helped the Steelers win the 2016 Hungarian Bowl. This might be one of the main reasons why the team reunited with the wide receiver from San Diego. The other is his height and athletic abilities. Until he was 13, he played basketball, thus, his vertical jump is well above average. After finishing his studies at Friends University, he started playing in Europe, but Miskolc was not his first stop.

Photo: András Pazár

“Before coming to Hungary, I played in Ukraine for the Vinnytsia Wolves. That was my first opportunity to play in Europe. Then the Steelers’ directory found me and I played the remaining 3 games of the season in Miskolc. We won the championship and I came back, this time for a whole season. I feel the sport is growing bigger each year in Hungary. I think in a few years, there will be more teams competing for the HFL title.”

The Steelers’ won their 2017 HFL opener. The team from Hungary’s “Steel City” defeated last year’s silver medalist the Budapest Cowbells 36-14. Benson had six catches for 98 yards and two touchdowns making him one of the best players of the game. Nevertheless, the victory was also due to the improved defense of the Steelers which was bolstered by the physical play of the Ukrainian players.

“I played great in the first game. But there is still room to improve. There were passes I dropped and could have caught. My team did a really good job. I could not have made my two touchdown catches without my teammates. The offense line protected Yordan, who could give me great passes. Not to mention, the defense made crucial stops during the game and got back the ball. I feel the team put me in a good position to make everything happen.”

Photo: András Pazár

Last year Miskolc were not dominant. The Steelers won the majority of their matches in the last minutes or seconds. As they did in the Hungarian Bowl. The solid start against the Cowbells sent a message to all HFL teams that if anyone wants to be champion, they have to defeat the Steelers. After the first victory, the American wideout spoke confidently about the odds of keeping the title in Miskolc.

“I think we can repeat! All we have to do is to improve game by game, play for each other, work harder and stay focused. Our defense got way better than last year. The offense also improved, especially in running the football. We could also upgrade the secondary by moving Troy [Rice] to safety. There are also some new guys in the defense who can stop running. All in all, this team is ready to repeat.”

The Miskolc Steelers’ next game will be in Dunaújváros against the Gorillaz on April 23.

Interested in playing American football in overseas?

Register on Europlayers.com.

Europlayers is the largest online database of American football players, teams and coaches.  It is a connector, bringing together and introducing athletes to overseas teams. On the site you can begin researching teams around the world.  Once you create a profile, you become searchable by hundreds of American football clubs around the world.

László Makranczi is a radio reporter, announcer and American Football journalist in Hungary. He lives in Debrecen and works for the Hungarian American Football Federation. Studied at the University of Debrecen, got a master’s degree in American