"My expectation is to make a big impact on the Auburn family and be a big leader this year," says Benton, a former high school All-American at Bastrop, La., High who originally signed with LSU before re-signing with Auburn in February.
After riding on a bus 19 hours to get to the Auburn campus, he checked in at 6-2, 195 pounds when he went through a physical and began orientation to prepare for classes.
Asked if he is in good shape as he prepares his college adventure, the receiver says, "It is going to take me a little bit more time. I am not in the shape that I need to be. I did a little running, but probably not too much weight-lifting. I tried to stay in shape."
Benton signed with LSU as a high school senior, but didn't qualify academically and played a season of prep school football at Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia. He again signed with LSU, but didn't qualify. The Bayou Bengals hoped to get him on campus in time for spring training this year, but when that didn't happen the new Auburn coaching staff, led by wide receivers coach Trooper Taylor, convinced Benton to visit Auburn. Benton liked what he saw and decided to sign with AU in February.
"Coach Troop and I have a really good relationship," the wide receiver says. "I have heard nothing but great things about him as a coach and a person."
Benton played a season of prep school football at Hargrave.
When Benton signed with Auburn in February, he was still working on qualifying. He got that taken care of earlier this spring and says it was a major weight off his shoulders.
"I felt really good about the time and the work I put into making it happen," he says, noting he was pleased but not surprised when he got a call from one of his coaches saying he was academically qualified to enroll at Auburn. "I felt like all of the hard work paid off," he says. "Now I have to make the best out if it."
As a high school senior Benton caught 40 passes for 1,037 yards with 15 touchdowns. As a junior he caught 41 passes for 869 yards and 11 TDs. He was named Player of the Year in Louisiana and was rated as the No. 7 wide receiver prospect in the country by Scout.com.
Benton is shown in action as a receiver at Bastrop High School.
His decision to not sign again with LSU was not a popular one in Louisiana, but he notes that he isn't concerned about that. Benton says his focus is on doing his best to help the 2009 Auburn football team by catching passes and blocking. "I think the best thing I do is my downfield blocking," he says.
By arriving for classes in May, he will have more than two months to work on his conditioning and make the adjustment to college life before preseason practices begin.
Asked if he is nervous, Benton says, "Just a little bit, but I am laid-back, too. It's not a problem. I have got to do it anyway."
In addition to his work in the the weight room and classrooms this summer, arriving in May will give him an opportunity to meet his new teammates. "I know a couple of the guys, but not too many," he points out. "I feel like that (arriving in May) is a real big help to get a head start to get me prepared for the season."
DeAngelo Benton says he is happy to be in Auburn.
Benton will not be a typical freshman. He is already 21 years old and will turn 22 in November. Even though he sat out of football last fall, he says it will be a "cake walk" getting back in the groove once he gets on the practice field this summer.
Commenting on what he can bring to the table this season for Chizik's Tigers, Benton says, "It is a real big opportunity for me to help them out. I think I can put a lot of points on the board. I can motivate other players to play hard."
Benton and the Tigers will open their season Sept. 5th with a home game vs. Louisiana Tech.