For the first time in five years, Markail Benton won't be patrolling the middle of Phenix City (Ala.) Central's defense. The blue-chip linebacker recruit, headed to Alabama at the end of the month, was still well involved while on hand to see the Red Devils scrimmage Friday.
"I wish I had another year at Central to chase a state championship," he said. "But then again I'm ready to move on and get to college, further my education and play college football."
The four-star linebacker prospect and Under Armour All-American was well under 100 percent as a senior in 2016, competing with shoulder and knee ailments that would require surgery two weeks before National Signing Day.
"I feel good, shoulder's doing a lot better. My knee, I think it's better than my other (non-surgery) knee," Benton said with a smile.
The procedures for the torn labrum and torn meniscus went down simultaneously on January 13.
"I walked our the hospital on my knee and I was out of the sling probably three days after," he said. "Then it was physical therapy and rehab. Now it's just once a week. I lift weights, workout, all of that.
"I'll go see the doctor once I get there."
The check-in with Alabama doctors is fast approaching, with his move in date less than two weeks away. The work on the Crimson Tide side of things, on and off the field, begins soon after arrival.
"I take a science class as soon as I get there in Tuscaloosa," Benton said. "I think we got workouts on the 30th."
Working with the offseason workout guide Nick Saban and company sent as soon as the No. 1 class on Scout was signed, contact between Benton and the UA staff has been even more frequent following his recruitment. He is in touch with future teammates, too.
"I talk to coach (Derrick) Ansley probably every day out the week," he said. "He's just checking in with me, making sure I workout every day. I talk to Mack (Wilson) probably once a week. I talk to (Henry) Ruggs a good bit, we're trying to be roommates. We go up on the 28th, all of us, unless they have school that goes into June."
Listing himself at 6-foot-3, 235 pounds, a future role on the Alabama defense may be a versatile one for the in-state star.
"I'm just ready to get on the field and play," Benton said. "First and second down inside and then third down, pass-rush time.
"I'm like Von Miller."