Charges Behind Him, Benson Looks To Title Season

Senior RB Cedric Benson said he did the crime (misdemeanor trespassing) and now has done the time (sort of). Texas' No. 3 all-time leading rusher was able to complete his eight-day sentence without additional jail time over the weekend. Now Benson can completely focus on a championship season, he said Monday.

"I feel good that I have this behind me," Benson said. "It's good knowing that every day is the next day and that you can't go back."

Benson pleaded no contest Friday to misdemeanor criminal trespass charges filed against him last October.

"I didn't follow it as closely because it was still in the court system," head coach Mack Brown said, "but he made a decision that actually takes the harshest punishment to get it out of the way so he can practice (Tuesday). I thought that was a positive decision for us and I hope it worked out best for him."

The charge is punishable by up to one year in jail and $1,000. Benson reportedly paid his $1,000 fine early Saturday morning shortly after checking in to the Travis County Correctional Complex in Del Valle. He was credited for the appearance and released shortly thereafter. Travis County allows a sentence to be cut in half for good behavior and permits an additional day's credit for community service. Benson received a day's credit when he reported to the Travis County Correctional Complex on Friday evening but was released because the facility was already full. He was also credited for time previously served when the incident was reported last year.

The Austin Police Department filed misdemeanor trespass charges against Benson on October 20. He was arraigned after kicking in a Southeast Austin apartment door on Oct. 7 (four days before the Oklahoma game) in an attempt to recover a stolen large plasma screen television. Robbery charges were not filed because no contents were stolen from the apartment on Little Texas Lane near Stassney Road. Benson had filed a police report a year earlier, stating that his television, along with a Sony Playstation, some speakers and clothes, were stolen from his home. He thought his possessions were inside the apartment, Benson later said.

According to reports, a female tenant heard knocking at the front door. When she did not answer the door, Benson allegedly forced the door open. Benson departed when it became clear he was at the wrong address. The tenant gave Austin police a written statement after writing down a license plate number that led police to Benson. Brown "excused" the junior running back from the team when it played at Baylor but returned the following week for the Nebraska game.

The experience has left Benson older, wiser and eager to focus solely on football. Part of that focus included giving up his minor league baseball affiliation with the Los Angeles Dodgers organization.

"I'm older and I'm a little bit more mature, for sure," said the 21 year-old. "I'm in better shape than I was a year ago. I'm a little bit more motivated. I'm going to savor every moment that I can and enjoy it."

The Longhorns reported Monday for pre-season camp with the first practice scheduled today for 6:00 p.m. at Denius Field.

"Every one is rededicated because we're tired of losing. Point-blank," he said. "I want to get some things done here at Texas."

Now, we all know what Cedric meant, but I asked him to specify what the team (which has won 10 or 11 games each of his three previous seasons) was "tired of."

"We're hungry and I guess we're a little greedy," he said. "We want a championship. I'm not the only one that feels like this. If anybody tells you any different, he's lying."

Benson rushed for 1,360 yards en route to consensus first-team All-Big 12 honors as a junior. He led the nation in rushing TDs (21) and ranked second nationally in scoring (11.17 ppg) in 2003. After Texas became a Zone Read offense at mid-season, Benson rushed for 1,002 yards (167 ypg) and 14 TDs during the Horns' last six games. His 3,706 career rushing yards and 45 rushing TDs (No. 2 on the UT career list) in 37 games (31 starts) are tops among NCAA Div. I players. He is the only NCAA Div. I-A back that has rushed for 1,000 yards in each of the last three seasons.

"I'm glad Cedric got his case settled and out of the way this weekend so that he can move forward with tomorrow night's practice," Brown said Monday.

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