Tampa Bay Tech ATH Richard Benjamin has cut his list of over 30 verbal offers to 10.
Top 10: Florida, Vanderbilt, USF, UCF, Miami, USC, Clemson, Georgia, Oklahoma, UCLA
In-state Gators, Bulls, Knights and Hurricanes all make the cut for Benjamin who has expressed a desire to stay home so his friends and family can come see him play on a regular basis.
“I like the atmosphere at USF. I also really like the education at UCF,” Benjamin said of the two programs. “I like knowing that people from home can come watch me play.”
Tampa Bay’s No. 2 ATH also is high on Florida and Miami. He has friends at both schools and talks to them on a regular basis.
“I talk to Quentin Dunbar and Matt Jones a lot,” he said of his connections with the Gators. “They tell me it’s a nice school and if I was to consider Florida I would become part of the family and they would take me under their wing and protect me.”
His ties to Miami are however even stronger.
“Me and Maurice Hagens [a Tampa Bay Tech grad] talk a lot. I also talk to my cousin Travis Benjamin all the time,” the 6-foot 1-inch ATH said. “They tell me that it’s my decision of where I want to be for the next four years. Not to just go to the school because of the hype or the coaches, that I need to go to the school that fits me.”
In addition to the in-state programs Vanderbilt makes Benjamin’s top 10. He recently visited the Commodores with members of Team Tampa and took a liking to the program.
“They are nice, cool guys,” Benjamin said. A number of Armwood players have made Vanderbilt home as of late including QB Joshua Grady and OL Kevin McCoy. “They don’t pressure you at all. They always tell me they aren’t pressuring me, but if I do go there I would be joining the family and they would look after me if I ever need help.”
Benjamin also takes into account the education that comes from Vanderbilt. “Vandy education means a lot.”
Four schools Benjamin has yet to visit also make his top 10. He’ll visit Clemson and Georgia in June on a bus tour, and says he plans to take official visits to USC and UCLA this summer.
“I talk to Nelson Agholor a lot,” Benjamin says of his connection to USC. “He tells me that it’s a nice place to be with nice people out there. He also said that he thinks I would really like it if I was go to there. It’s a new atmosphere and different from Tampa.”
One thing all of these schools has in common is that they have shown interest in him, as a person.
“Coaches that try to listen and understand your lifestyle, those are the kind of people you need to trust,” he says. “I like the coaches who ask about my mother and want to talk to my father. I like the coaches who just want to get to know about me. Those are the coaches trying to be loyal to me and want me for who I am, not just what I do.”
Benjamin has positioned himself to make his college decision early. He will graduate in December and plans to enroll early.
“After I take all of my visits, I will commit.”
The decision could come as early as this summer after he takes his west coast trip.
The schools to keep an extremely close eye on are the ones that coexist with his cousin, and Armwood safety, Leon McQuay III who recently released his top 10.
“You never know… Me and Leon McQuay might end up at the same school,” Benjamin said. “We would like to stay together. We want to go to the same school, but it has to fit for both of us.”
The schools that made both athletes list: Florida, Vanderbilt, USC, Clemson, UCLA
Kyle is a recruiting analyst for Big County Preps. You can email him at Bennett@BigCountyPreps.com and follow him on Twitter @KyleBennettBCP