Benson Makes First Public Comments Since Arrest

Stating that his misdemeanor trespassing charges issued last week weren&#146;t &quot;as serious as it might have seemed,&quot; RB <B>Cedric Benson</B> was back at practice Tuesday and spoke with reporters for the first time since head coach <B>Mack Brown </B>&quot;excused&quot; him from the team.

"I didn’t really miss much," Benson said. "Things are still the same. Not much has changed. The guys are happy to see me. They welcomed me back good. I’m happy to be back."

Benson was charged with a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail after reportedly entering a South Austin apartment on Oct. 7 to retrieve a plasma television that he reported stolen last November. On several occasions, Benson chose not to answer specific questions regarding what might have actually happened, but replied, "It’s a legal issue, but I can tell you anything about Nebraska."

Benson did not practice last week nor did he travel with the team to Baylor.

"I guess something had to be done," he said of Brown’s decision to bench him. "I’m not complaining about what happened. We still came out with a victory. I’m back out here now and back in the groove of things."

Brown’s statement Sunday that the starting RB spot might be up for grabs came as news to Benson. When asked if he would be on the first team offense when it takes the field shortly after 11 a.m. Saturday, Benson said, "I believe so. I haven’t heard otherwise."

Brown’s statement was intentionally vague, saying, "We’re going to look at it like we do everybody else every week. He ran with everybody. We rotate backs like we do each week. But he did a good job during practice."

Still, Benson said he did not even listen to the game on the radio nor did he tune in to the tape-delayed broadcast presented in the Austin market.

"I just rested," he said. "I didn’t even watch it."

Previously, Benson had logged 23 starts but yielded his spot to senior RB Brett Robin.

"I just bit the bullet and prayed for a victory," Benson said. "I knew they’d come out on top."

Brown said that he takes a personal, if not fatherly, role in addressing players who are accused of wrongdoing.

"I feel the responsibility like a parent," Brown said, "and what I have to do, unlike you folks (media), is I have to look at all the situations. I have to talk to the family. I have to talk to the young man and basically treat him like I would treat my own son. Athletes get accused of a lot of things they don’t do, so you have to be really careful. Accusations now are public incrimination in modern day media. So that’s where we are. That’s what we’re doing. That’s your (media) job. But I have to look at the facts and I have to look at the legal system because I could be accused of something I didn’t do. I have to treat our players like I would want to be treated myself, and that all of them are innocent until proven guilty. In each one of those cases, if someone is guilty, the legal system usually handles it. Then what I would like to do, and what our university and our program would like to do, is teach them a strong lesson if they’ve done something wrong because these are teenagers, and sometimes they do make the wrong decisions."

For now, Benson just wants the ball during this critical four-week stretch that will largely determine the legacy of the 2003 Longhorns.

"They say November is the month they remember, so we’re looking to come out on top," he said.

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