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Football, acting, and activism spur this South Florida native

September 3, 2019
football player poses at the football stadium.James Bentayou ’23 hopes Rochester will become a place where he can combine his interest in acting, politics, and football. “I want people on campus to remember me.” (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

James Bentayou ’23 is always on the go, whether he’s playing football, acting in a Lifetime movie, attending the theater, skimboarding, or playing paintball. He was “spirit commissioner” at his South Florida high school, preparing pep rallies months in advance, and served in a youth congressional cabinet with US Representative Ted Deutch.

“I like to stay active,” Bentayou says.

The Coconut Creek, Florida, native brings that same energy to the University of Rochester, where he plans to major in political science, play running back for the varsity football team, take theater classes, and participate in student government.

students form the numbers 23

Meet the Class of 2023

They come from 44 states and 65 countries. Twenty percent are the first in their family to attend college. Welcome to Rochester, Class of 2023.

Bentayou first became interested in Rochester when he was approached as a strong potential scholar-athlete by the Yellowjackets’ defensive coordinator Chris Sapp. “I came up for a visit and fell in love with the campus, the open curriculum, and the people here,” he says.

He started playing football in ninth grade, but it was more pastime than passion until his senior year. “We played our rival, Key West, and I just fell in love with it during that game,” he says. “That’s when I knew I wanted to play in college.”

He was the lead in the school play and acted in local commercials. Two years ago, he landed a small role in a Lifetime movie. “I played the boyfriend of the daughter whose mom gets kidnapped,” he says of his role in the film, Girlfriend Killer. “My coaches called me ‘Movie Star’ for that one.”

Bentayou hopes to play another role in real life—social activist. His high school, North Broward Preparatory School, is seven miles from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 people were killed in a mass shooting on February 14, 2018. Bentayou was a junior at the time, and the tragedy affected him deeply.

“I have friends who lost sisters, and friends who lost their friends,” he says. “I saw how it impacted a community, and I realized that politics matter. I want to be involved in politics and have a say in how we fix this problem.”

Bentayou has many goals as he begins college life.

“I want good grades,” he says. “I want 1,000 rushing yards in a football season. And I want people on campus to remember me as someone who was very involved in the Rochester community, a leader who always had positive spirits, trying to get people to come to school events. I want to really make an impact on the community here.”


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Category: Campus Life

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