PREP FOOTBALL: Eastside's LaMarius Benson nets International Bowl invite with USA Football National Team
Newton's Dre Butler catches eye of Alabama coaching staff
Eastside lineman, Lamarius Benson anchored the trenches on both sides of the ball for the Eagles in 2017. - photo by Anthony Banks

COVINGTON, Ga. — Two Newton County football players are getting some major attention and accolades thrown their way. 

Eastside defensive and offensive lineman, LaMarius Benson and Newton’s Dre Butler, a defensive end, and current power forward on the Rams’ undefeated and fourth-ranked basketball team have found themselves on some pretty substantial football radars. 

First, Benson, a South Carolina commit, has been selected by USA Football for its US National Team that will play in the 2018 International Bowl in the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. 

Some of the top recent names — particularly in terms of college football success — have played in this bowl game in the past, including former UGA star running back, Todd Gurley, former national championship winning Florida State quarterback, Jameis Winston and former LSU star safety Tyrann Mathieu, more popularly known in college as the “Honey Badger.” 

Benson capped off a stellar career at Eastside by being named first-team All-Region 4-AAAA for the second straight season, playing mostly on the offensive line for the 8-3 Eagles who lost in the first round of the Class AAAA playoffs. Benson will practice and compete with his US National Team teammates during the week of January 12. 

Butler catches ‘Bama DC’s eye

Thanks to Darnell Jefferies’ still-rising recruiting stock, despite his hard commitment to Clemson, the up-start Butler got a chance to get a meeting with Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. 

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Defensive end Dre Butler takes down Peachtree Ridge's quarterback last Friday. - photo by Anthony Banks

“(Pruitt) came by to inquire about Darnell Jefferies,” said Newton assistant football coach and recruiting coordinator Josh Skelton. “He had heard about Dre Butler and talked about his explosion and athleticism and how much they have serious interest in him.” 

Skelton also said that Pruitt talked of how he’s taken chances on players like Butler before, often with great success. 

It sort of makes one wonder what would Butler’s football recruiting portfolio would look like had the 6-foot-5, 230-pound senior d-end not spent the better part of his sophomore and junior seasons nursing injury. 

Butler made the most of his senior campaign, however. He registered 50 total tackles, including a whopping 20 tackles for losses, eight quarterback sacks and a forced fumble for a 7-4, injury-riddled Newton team that barely missed qualifying for the second round in the Class AAAAAAA playoffs after an overtime loss to Parkview ended it’s season. 

Butler is also averaging close to a double-double currently for the fourth-ranked Newton basketball team. And although he’s a late arrival on the recruiting scene, this interest from the Crimson Tide isn’t his first bit of attention. 

Skelton said Butler holds scholarship offers from UT-Chattanooga, East Tennessee State and Tennessee State while also picking up strong interest from Miami-Ohio, Kent State and South Florida.