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PREP FOOTBALL: Benton’s back; says return to Rams ‘made sense’
Justin Benton - photo by Special Photo

COVINGTON, Ga. — News broke via Twitter on Jan. 5 that Justin Benton, who has spent the last year at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, is returning to the Newton Rams football team for his senior season. 

Benton is considered a four-star defensive lineman by 247Sports —the 28th best player in Georgia for the class of 2023.

Even though he’s been in Florida for a year now, Benton admitted that he’s kept an eye on the Rams. 

“I always cared about what my guys were doing back home,” Benton said. “I’ve kept up with a lot of guys through social media.” 

Now, Benton will be rejoining his teammates to help lead the Rams in 2022. 

Prior to his departure to IMG Academy, Benton put together quite the resume as a Ram starter his freshman and sophomore seasons. 

Particularly during his 10th grade year, Benton accumulated 93 tackles while leading the team in 2020 with 12.5 sacks, 24.5 tackles for loss and 22 quarterback hurries. He also tied the team-high in solo tackles with 55 and recorded an interception to boot. 

Newton head coach Camiel Grant Jr. said Benton’s return would be a boost for the team. 

“The biggest thing that Justin brings that will be a game changer is his experience,” Grant said. “Justin has been a starter at the varsity level since his ninth grade year.  The experience and leadership he can bring to a young group is very important.”

Grant also noted that Newton is graduating three starters on the defensive line, so Benton should help fill that void in 2022. 

Benton is certain that his experience the past year will assist the Rams next season, too. 

He stressed that he’s learned how to compete going against a lot of quality competition at the academy. But, most of all, Benton admitted he was ready to return home. 

“The main reason [for me to return] was for me to come back home and be around my people,” Benton said. “It just made sense to come back home and finish my senior year.” 

Benton holds scholarship offers from Georgia, Arizona State, Arkansas, Florida and Florida State, among others.