COVINGTON, Ga. — Lamarius Benson was very honest.
Although the 6-foot-3, 300-pound 3-star defensive tackle from Eastside made his pledge to South Carolina back in March, it hasn’t stopped coaches from coming out of the woodworks to sway the big rising senior to their respective schools.
In fact, since the commitment, the attention may have even increased.
“Well, coaches still hit me up pretty much all the time,” Benson said Thursday morning during an Eastside summer workout.
When Benson committed back on March 12, the Gamecocks were one of six programs that had offered Benson. The others: Georgia Tech, Maryland, Georgia State, Troy and Central Florida.
And the way the recruiting game works, typically when one or two Power Five schools come calling, many others fall in like dominoes. But never fear, Gamecock nation. Benson says he’s not budging from his pledge.
“They still contact me, but I’m still with South Carolina, so it’s all good. I’m 100 percent with South Carolina,” Benson said.
And then he added a little sauce to the statement.
The subject of college recruiting was just one of several things Benson chatted about as he and his Eastside teammates were buzzing around the Eagles’ practice field donning shorts, shirts and helmets during their first week of summer workouts.
Among other things was Benson’s commitment to honing his craft, and the kind of offense he thinks his squad can have in 2017 — particularly in the running game.
“I’ve been working on getting better on the offensive line,” he said. “I’ve been trying to get to know everything that I need to know. Like, going over all the stuff I did over the last year and working on getting bigger and stronger. That’s really been the main thing.”
Benson will play on both Eastside’s defensive and offensive lines this fall. That’s not new for him. But the biggest task is trying to help bring some of his fresh-faced trenchermen on the o-line up to the task of competing this fall.
“I’ve got my buddy Spurgeon (Gaither) on the line to help me hold it down on defense,” Benson said. “And I’ve got myself on the o-line, but I’m gonna work to get a few more guys with me this year. But I think we’re going to have a good group.”
Part of that comes from the fact that Eastside will look to boast a three-headed monster at tailback with the return of junior Taylor Carter who rushed for over 500 yards and nine touchdowns while splitting time with graduated tailback Anthony Brown.
Benson believes Carter’s talents will shine in a whole different way, as the likely featured back in Eastside’s offense.
“TC did a good job last year,” Benson said. “We’re gonna get 1,000 (yards on him this year.”
But in 2017, Carter won’t be toting the leather alone. The Eastside running game will be bolstered by the addition of two Rockdale transfers in senior Tyon Davis and junior Jordan Rogers. Rogers would’ve been the second leading returning rusher for the Bulldogs, as he ran for 274 yards on 46 carries and a score, just behind senior Cortez Faulkner who ran for 461 yards and two scores in 2016.
The trio’s potential has Benson excited.
“Those are my boys,” he said. “I think with Tyon and Jordan, we can really improve.”
Benson said he’s chiefly motivated, however, by the opportunity to see Eastside go deeper in the playoffs than before in the playoffs.
“I want us to make a deep playoff run,” he said. “That’s what I want to see. We haven’t had one in a while. I think the furthest is the second round, and that was my freshman year. We’re trying to go to at least the third this year.”
That’s why he doesn’t mind putting in the work, even just days after the 2016-17 school year ended. Benson said he’s not looking for a break.
“It’s like an all year process, really,” he said. “Everything is back to back to back. We had a good winter, a good spring. So now it’s time to get ready to get this new season started, really.”