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PREP FOOTBALL: Newton's Justin Benton shines in Freshman All-America Bowl
Justin Benton
Justin Benton in uniform prior to his appearance in the Freshman All-American Bowl. Submitted Photo.

COVINGTON, Ga. - The top sixty athletes for the 2023 recruiting class in football competed in the FBU Freshman All-American bowl and Newton defensive end Justin Benton made the cut.

There’s no questioning Benton’s talent as he shined for the Rams this season as just a freshman. Benton finished second on the team in sacks with seven and forced two fumbles. 

Such an outstanding season did not go unnoticed as he was selected to compete against some of the nation’s best in the freshman All-American Bowl, where he played on the victorious team, Team Adizero, who won 14-7 in a defensive battle.

“The coaches down there said, ‘Nobody has fun losing,’ so I’m really happy we won,” Benton said. “If we would have lost, man, I hate losing. I’m not a loser. I have a winning nature, so I’m happy we won.”

Benton had a very strong showing in the ball game with multiple pressures on the quarterback and even found a way to bring the quarterback down for a sack on one occasion. 

He expressed how happy he was to be there and compete against some of the very best athletes in the country. Benton continuously expressed how much he loves the fierce competition. 

“Man, it was a great experience, I got to match up against all great competition, and it was just an all-around great experience,” Benton said. “My favorite part was competing. I’m a big competitor, so my favorite part was competing with my grade level class of 2023 and getting after the quarterback.”

Getting to the quarterback is no easy task, but doing it against some of the best offensive linemen in your recruiting class is a testament to how advanced Benton’s game is at such an early age. 

Rams head coach Camiel Grant Jr. quickly noticed Benton’s fantastic talent this season and is excited to see how he progresses. He has high hopes for the freshman in the future and knows he will be a leader on this team, especially by example. 

“I think his numbers stack up with anyone in our region, he played that well,” Grant said. “He’s very coachable, he has a motor, and I think he’ll be ready to step into that leadership role from a standpoint of showing people how it’s supposed to be done.”

Benton seems poised to take up that role with some seniors leaving, but Grant knows he still has to grow and develop as a leader of the team since he will be only a sophomore at that time. 

The young defensive end seems already hungry to get back after the quarterback and is ready to shine for the Rams again next season and build on his already impressive start to his young career.

"Make sure I am just working to get better, to have an even better season than I had my freshman season," he said. "I want to grow as a player and as a man and do bigger and better things than this year."