War Eagle Extra

Auburn in the mix for top in-state prospect Markail Benton with linebacker’s decision set for Friday

rtrimarchi@ledger-enquirer.com

Central coach Jamey DuBose is waiting to find out where his star linebacker Markail Benton intends to play college ball just like everyone else.

Benton narrowed his list to Auburn, Alabama and Florida State earlier this month and plans to verbally commit to one of the schools during a short ceremony Friday at his high school’s auditorium.

“With a lot of my guys I know what they are going to say, but that’s not the case with Markail,” DuBose said Wednesday afternoon. “He’s kept it to himself.”

Benton, a 4-star prospect, is ranked as a top 10 players in the state and top 100 overall recruits in the country by 247 Sports. The 6-foot-1, 237-pounder has 19 offers including ones from Clemson, LSU, South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia and Michigan.

According to his coach, the linebacker ticks off all the boxes power five programs covet.

“The SEC cuts you out if God doesn’t give you that natural ability, but Markail fits the mold,” DuBose said. “He’s got real good speed and size, and his technique is only going to get better.”

The linebacker’s ability to play on the inside or outside at his position also helped him climb to the top of team’s boards.

“His versatility makes him so attractive to a lot of teams,” DuBose said. “He’s not just a 3-4 guy or a 4-3 guy, he can do both.”

Auburn is one of the teams that started recruiting Benton when the defender was a freshman.

Benton was part of the program’s junior day in February and was also on the Plains last week for the program’s Big Cat Weekend, an annual recruiting event that gathers the Tigers’ top targets together on campus.

Auburn wasn’t the only team able to make an in-person pitch to Benton before his final decision. The linebacker made a trip to Tuscaloosa to spend time on the University of Alabama’s campus.

DuBose referenced the visits in describing why Benton is mentally ready to pick a school.

“He’s been going through this for three years, dealing with all the calls, the trips and people constantly wanting your time,” Dubose said. “I think he’s ready to get it off his shoulders.”

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