Sports

Central’s Markail Benton stands by commitment, signs with Alabama

Central linebacker Markail Benton’s play on the field is often wild and unpredictable. His final decision on National Signing Day, however, was anything but.

Benton stuck by the verbal commitment he made last June and officially signed with the Alabama Crimson Tide on Wednesday. The four-star linebacker is locked into an Alabama recruiting class that is sure to be considered among the best in the nation at day’s end.

Once Benton put pen to paper, his younger brother let out a “Roll Tide” into the microphone in front of him. Based on Benton’s own words, it sounded like he was excited enough to do the same.

“It’s a wonderful feeling,” Benton said. “I can’t ask for anything else. There’s just something about Alabama that makes me feel so good about them. It feels like family when I’m up at Alabama.”

RELATED: More football signings, click here.

RELATED: Other sports signings, click here.

Benton raised some eyebrows over the weekend when he took a last-minute official visit to Auburn. Benton said he sat down with Tigers head coach Gus Malzahn and talked things over. Without providing specifics, Benton said the discussion made him think twice about what he would do.

In the end, it was the man in charge of the Crimson Tide that convinced him to stick with his word.

“I thought about (flipping) for a second,” Benton said. “(The deciding factor was) Coach Saban. He’s a great head coach.”

The 6-foot-2, 237-pound linebacker had no shortage of options to choose from. Benton had 19 scholarship offers on the table, which included Alabama, Auburn and other schools such as Clemson, Florida State and Georgia.

From Central head coach Jamey DuBose’s perspective, there’s no doubting why so many schools came calling for Benton.

“He’s a dynamic player,” DuBose said. “He’s got all the intangibles that everybody’s looking for. He’s just got to get into their scheme of things, learn their terminology and earn his stripes. Going to Alabama is not an easy thing.”

DuBose said many players may opt to avoid the challenge of competing for playing time at Alabama, which is an obstacle Benton addressed after he signed. He said his mentality is that he has to compete against the best daily in order to reach the level he aspires to.

It’s no small task, but Benton was quick to point out the window of opportunity he sees in Tuscaloosa.

“The defense they just had has guys leaving, guys like Reuben Foster,” Benton said. “It will take a lot to feel his shoes, but one day I hope to get there.”

Benton said he’s highly anticipating his arrival at Alabama and is looking forward to delivering another Crimson Tide national title. He said he plans on majoring in sports medicine once school starts in the fall and is excited to get his collegiate career started.

“It’s a kid’s dream, to play at the University of Alabama,” Benton said. “I’ve always wanted to play with Alabama since I was young. They won back in the day, and they’re still winning now.”

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