The Alabama Crimson Tide is preparing to begin defending its 2015 national championship on Saturday against fellow traditional power USC as practices have shifted from fall camp grind to game-planning. On Saturday, Nick Saban and company conducted its latest workout and select prospects were on hand for it.
Phenix City (Ala.) Central standout and four-star UA verbal commitment Markail Benton was among them, returning after a shutout win over Fairfield (Ala.) High School the night before.
"I just watched practice, it was just a regular practice," he said.
As one would expect, Benton kept an eye on the linebacker position while in Tuscaloosa this time around, where a freshman at the position was among the standouts.
"Ruben (Foster), (Shaun Dion) Hamilton and Mack Wilson. Every time I looked he was around the ball," he said of Wilson.
The theme of young linebackers impressing and potentially playing sooner rather than later upon arrival is something the program is selling Benton on, too. He is one of three blue-chip linebackers currently committed to the program in the class of 2017 along with five-star Floridian VanDarius Cowan as well as Douglas, Ala. native and junior college star Gary Johnson.
"I talked to coach Saban the other day and he was like they really don't have any depth at linebacker and I would come in and get some playing time," he said. "My freshman year I have to come in working extra hard to get the job done."
In the meantime, additional college programs continue to recruit the top defender in the state on Scout despite his pledge to the Alabama program on June 10.
"I'm 100 percent," he said of his current commitment status. "Nothing new for me."
Benton, whose Central Red Devils host vaunted Auburn (Ala.) High Friday, did not disclose any upcoming visit plans.
Watch Benton in his Senior Season Debut 8.19.16: