The Will to Find a Way

Defensive back Shannon Benton has had a bit of a rough time in Provo, and the there is still more ahead of him. In the end Benton hopes that diligent effort will carry him through the tough times to his goal of playing for the BYU Cougar football team.

The ride to play college football has been rocky for Shannon Benton thus far. After signing with Tennessee out of high school, Benton spent two years with the Vols before transferring to BYU. Benton sat out a year on the practice squad due to transfer requirements then had some off the field troubles that forced him to leave the program.

But Benton hasn't given up hope and has been attending UVSC since his suspension and plans on giving it a go for what will be his final senior season. "I want to play so bad," Benton said. "I've been through a lot and I know I've grown stronger because of it. I want to come back and play for BYU one last time. I have one year left and I'm aiming toward coming back to BYU and playing hard for them, giving them all that I have."

But it's not as easy as just completing his suspension which will end this spring and then transfer over. Due to NCAA regulations which Benton doesn't entirely understand himself, he must graduate this summer from UVSC in order to be eligible to play for BYU this coming fall. Benton is close and doing everything he can to complete the hours necessary for graduation, but graduation is not a sure thing at this point for the defensive back from Babson Park, Florida.

Said Benton: "I'm taking 17 credit hours right now and I'm trying to add some work study courses. I'll do the same in the summer and hopefully that will be enough. I'm not totally sure that it will be, but hopefully it will be enough so I can graduate and fulfill my dream of playing college football, even if it is for only one season."

Benton has stayed in contact with cornerbacks coach Brian Mitchell throughout his suspension and is assured that there will be a place for him on the team if he fulfills all of his requirements. "Coach Mitchell has been great throughout this," said Benton. "He's helped me out as much as he can. I've stayed in contact with him throughout."

So why not just bolt and get out of town after being punished and subsequently suspended by the honor code office? "I love BYU," Benton aswered. "I want to play here and no where else. I like it here in Provo and attending UVSC has taught me a lot. I've learned from my mistakes and I just want to get back to BYU so bad and show them what I got and give it everything that I have."

Benton has kept up to date on the coaching changes that have occurred at BYU since his departure and is very happy about Bronco Mendenhall being named head coach. "Bronco is the man," Benton said. "I mean he's just the man. What else can you say? He's the kind of coach that demands the best from you and brings out the best of you. BYU couldn't have hired a better coach as far as I'm concerned. I just hope so much that I'll be able to play for him again."

In the meantime, Benton has a lot of studying to do to become eligible. Said Benton: "I need this so much. It's great that I'll be able to finish my degree. I'll finish my degree at UVSC regardless, but I'm going to do everything in my power to finish that degree this summer. I want to be a part of BYU next season. I love BYU and I respect Coach Mendenhall and Coach Mitchell tremendously. I just want to give it my all and make a big impact for one last year."

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