February 3, 2009

Birmingham Linebacker Excited for Chippewa Career

With Signing Day now less than a week away, two emotions are running very high for Central Michigan football fans. Those two emotions are excitement and paranoia. Excitement exists because the Chippewas are in line to ink one of the most talented classes Central Michigan has ever seen. The paranoia exists because there is great fear that kids will be plucked by BCS programs.

One highly rated player who the Chippewa faithful do not need to worry about is Shamari Benton, an explosive defensive prospect from Birmingham (Mich.) Brother Rice.

"I'm definitely going to sign with the Chippewas," Benton said. "I went through my process and made my decision a long time ago. New Mexico wanted me to take an official visit out there last week and I told them, "No, I am happy to be a Chippewa." Everyone in my class is excited to be a Chippewa. Central Michigan was our first choice. It's not like anyone was forced to come to CMU."

While he is excited to be a part of the Central Michigan football program, Shamari is also training hard to get himself ready for the rigors of college football.

"I'm excited to get all of the information about CMU's training program after I sign," Benton said. "I've been doing a lot more football related exercises. I've been working a lot more on my explosiveness and speed. I am already strong so I want to work on my speed. I am over 200 pounds right now."

One of Shamari's greatest assets is his versatility. Currently, he is planning on playing the SAM linebacker spot at CMU. However, other schools recruited him as a safety and as a cornerback.

Helping cement Shamari's decision even further was official and in-home visits.

"I had my in-home visit with Coach Azzani and Coach Jones is coming to my house on Friday night," Benton said. "The in-home with Coach Azzani went great. My parents got a good feel for him. My official visit was what re-assured me of my decision though."

Since he has committed, Shamari has also been able to develop relationships with several of his future teammates.

"Aaron McCord and I have been friends for a very long time," Benton said. "I have also gotten to know Justice Akuzue and Jason Johnson pretty well. I talk to Malek Redd and DJ Scott on Facebook quite a bit. I also know Adam Fenton and Cody Wilson pretty well. They play in the same area as I do."

While he has not gotten to know everyone in his recruiting class just yet, Shamari has been able to see videos and find out quite a bit about all of them. This opened the door for me to ask him which teammate on the defensive side of the ball he looked forward to playing with the most.

"You're asking me a tough question. I don't want to get anyone mad," Benton said laughing. "But I will say I really look forward to playing with Alex Smith and Will Schwarz. They make a lot of plays. When I make a tackle, I get really jacked up and so do they when they make plays. I like that a lot about them."

Continuing with theme of tough questions, I asked him what offensive teammate he looked forward to playing with the most.

"I've played against Cody Wilson so I've definitely seen what he can do," Benton said. "I also am looking forward to seeing what Malek Redd can do. He is just so fast. We were both at a National 7-on-7 tournament and he was just tearing everybody up. Also, if he commits, I really like Austin Dantin. I have seen his quarterback film and he is legit."

With National Signing Day coming up next Tuesday, Shamari had one message to share with Central Michigan fans before he signs on the dotted line.

"This recruiting class is going to live up to everything they're heard about us," Benton said. "We are coming up there to work hard and win championships. We are all excited to be Chippewas and can't wait to get up there and help the team."

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