COVINGTON, Ga. — For a while, Lamarius Benson’s path to college seemed secure.
Benson was a long-time pledge to South Carolina. And then things changed. Long story short, Benson realized the Gamecocks weren’t the fit for him he originally thought, and all of a sudden, his college football future was murky.
Or was it?
He committed shortly after to Central Florida, And then signed his letter of intent to the 2017 media darlings of college football who finished the season undefeated, complete with a Peach Bowl win over Auburn and their own personal version of a national championship.
Benson’s pledge to UCF wasn’t just something that came out of nowhere, however. He’d received interest from them, and when things fell through at South Carolina, the 6-foot-3, 330-pound recently graduated Eastside lineman took a quick visit and immediately fell in love.
The whole episode was admittedly stressful for the back-to-back first-team all region performer. But fast forward to June, and Benson can be found regularly hanging around the Eastside campus doing anything from working out or watching his little brother participate in a basketball camp.
“Here at Eastside, it just feels like another home to me,” Benson said. “I just feel at home with all the coaches and stuff. It’s always felt like that and I think it’ll always be like that.”
Benson’s not just comfortable around those familiar Covington digs. It’s probably safe to say he’s at peace with everything concerning life and football right now — even though that means leaving the Eagles’ nest.
“It feels good just to leave home and get a different experience,” Benson said. “It’s gonna be hard, just leaving home and what I’m familiar with. But then again, it’s time to put some work in and get the business done.”
Benson said he’s been focusing his offseason work on improving his explosion off the line and staying in football shape with a combination of weight room and on-the-field workouts. He said he’s been working with Eastside o-line coach Trey Camps a lot with the intent of working his way onto the field for the Knights as quickly as possible.
He’ll be working to find his way onto a unit that only allowed 13 quarterback sacks in 2017 which was the fifth fewest in the nation. Three linemen from that group return, but Benson, a three-star offensive lineman prospect — says he’s working like he’s going to be in the mix come fall.
“I think it’ll be a good time for me to find a good bit of playing time on the field my freshman year,” Benson said. “I know we lost two linemen, I think one hurt and one quit, but that doesn’t really change the way I prepare. I ‘m going to go down there and work hard and I’ll be ready to play. You’ve gotta have the same energy no matter what the circumstances are.”
Benson is set to report to campus on June 20. Until then, he’s going to enjoy his family as much as possible, making sure to stay mentally sharp as well as physically fit to make an early impression in Orlando.
“Working,” he said. “Just working. Doing a lot of work. Trying to stay busy and keep focused. I’m gonna have my fun and everything, but I’m not going to get distracted from doing the work I need to do to be ready to play.”