Atlanta, Ga.--One of the top linebacker prospects in the country, four-star Markail Benton from Central High Phenix City, Ala., put his talents on display Sunday at the Nike Opening Atlanta Regional and left with his golden ticket for the finals in Oregon in July. Showing his athleticism and quickness on a 237-pound frame, Benton stood out among a talented group of linebackers on hand at the camp.
A player who has been on the radar for top college programs for almost two full years, Benton has offers from top programs from all over the country but currently five are standing out to him as he prepares for spring practice with the Red Devils with the in-state schools at the top.
“Right now I would say Alabama and Auburn are my top two,” Benton said. “Florida State, Mississippi State and Georgia are in my top five.”
Recently visiting the Auburn Tigers along with several other top in-state linebackers such as K.J. Britt, Tadarian Moultry, Monty Rice, Jamal Brooks and Tadarrius Patterson to see the Tigers, Benton said one thing that stands out about them right now is linebacker Coach Travis Williams. A former All-SEC player for the Tigers, Williams has built a strong bond with many of the top linebackers in the 2017 class and Benton is no exception.
“I’ve got a great relationship with Coach T-Will,” Benton said. “He’s a guy that has been to Auburn, played at Auburn, and went to the next level. I think that’s good for an athlete like me or another athlete because learning from somebody who’s already been there and you’re trying to get to where he’s been, that’s good.
"I promise you I talk to Coach T Will 24/7," he added. "We probably talk seven days out of the week."
Benton wears Auburn gear at the Atlanta Regional for The Opening.
The need for linebackers is something that Benton said is important for him because he wants the chance to play early. It's also important because other players in this class recognize the same thing. One of them being fellow four-star Will Ignont.
"We have talked about Auburn a while back," Benton said. "He was saying that he was getting recruited by Auburn, too, and they don't have any linebackers. We've talked about it.
"You might as well get other guys to group up and go to school with you so you have other winners around you so that you can win."
Already very familiar with Alabama well, the two-instate schools will have a battle from Florida State with the Seminoles on Benton’s list since very early. With Kirby Smart now at Georgia that has the Bulldogs high on his list. Last but not least is Mississippi State with Central teammate Jamal Couch headed to Starkville to play.
With five schools in the hunt and originally plans to make a decision sometime in the coming weeks, Benton said he’s now decided to take things down until the end and commit in his final high school game in front of a national television audience.
“I’m going to wait until January at the Under Armour All-American Game,” Benton said. “I’m just waiting to build some suspense.”