Tennessee transfer "leaning to Brigham Young"

"I'm kinda leaning to Brigham Young. It's just a good gut feeling. It's not a big lean, just a slight lean in that direction. I'm still thinking and praying about it."

That's how University of Tennessee transfer Shannon Benton today described his thoughts in choosing between staying close to home and the University of South Florida (USF) or heading west to Provo and BYU.

"USF is right here at home. It's a good school and they're under-looked right now. They were 9 and 2 last year, I believe, and they're an up-and-coming program, big-time," Benton said.

"As for BYU, I clicked with (BYU cornerback coach) Brian Mitchell from the first time I met him. I think I would fit in well there. They're both great schools.

How soon before he finally decides?

"I'll know for sure by next Tuesday. I may decide by Friday, but I'll have a solid answer by Tuesday."

Benton, a 5' 10", 192-pound defensive back sat out his first year and played sparingly in three games last year for Tennessee.

Benton was an All-State Florida cornerback from Frostproof High School who was actively recruited by BYU assistant Brian Mitchell two years ago -- until he signed at the last moment with the University of Tennessee. Last week, he called Mitchell out of the blue when he received his official release from Tennessee.

"I like the 3-3-5 BYU is using and it would be a great opportunity for me to play. I really like Coach Mitchell as a person. He is a great guy."

Benton has yet to talk with BYU defensive coordinator Bronco Mendenhall, but he's very aware of the scheme Mendenhall has brought to Provo.

"I really like his scheme. I'd love to play safety or corner(back) in that scheme."

BYU has offered him a scholarship if he transfers to Provo. Benton said he weighs 192 pounds now and maintains his 4.5 forty speed.

During his senior season in high school, he made more than 40 tackles and four interceptions, while rushing for six touchdowns from a running back spot. he returned one punt for a touchdown, helping his team to a 6-4 record in 2000.

As a four-year defensive starter, he played a key role in leading Frostproof to a 1999 state title, with 75 tackles and three interceptions. As a standout on the baseball team, he hit .421 and stole 20 bases as a junior. He was also part of the school's 4 x 100 meter relay team that set a school record in his sophomore year.

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