PHENIX CITY, Ala. — Markail Benton made it clear what most in the recruiting industry believed — yes, at one point Auburn led for him.
For the past month or so, Alabama cut into that lead, which eventually led to the four-star linebacker from Central High School to choose the Crimson Tide Friday afternoon during a ceremony at his school.
‘When I go to Alabama, it feels like home,” Benton told SEC Country minutes after his decision. “It’s just something different about Alabama.”
Benton notified SEC Country about a month ago that Alabama was likely going to be his choice, but he still visited both schools to be sure. Prior to announcing his commitment to Alabama, Benton said he did not notify Auburn of his decision. He said he won’t be talking to the Tigers any time soon, either.
“I just want to focus on school and the school I am committed to,” Benton said.
Benton’s mother and stepdad are Alabama fans. His mother, Carla Lee, said she would have been happy with her son’s choice no matter which school he ended up choosing.
“Whatever makes him happy, makes me happy,” his mother said. “I would have been the biggest Auburn fan you’d ever see if he was there.”
The Under Armour All-American doesn’t have a list of players he’s targeting for Alabama, but his teammate, Justyn Ross, is the No. 1 player in the state of Alabama for the Class of 2018.
“Justyn and I are really close,” Benton said. “We’re like brothers.”
Those two usually make all of their recruiting trips together, and Benton said Ross knew about his decision to attend Alabama for a few days now. He thinks the Crimson Tide are going to become the favorite to land his teammate when he makes his decision.
Family is important for Benton, but his mother, who is one of the most important people when it comes to his recruitment, was kept out of the loop on his decision to commit to Alabama until the last minute.
“I’ve known for about a week,” his mother laughed. “He said something like, ‘Well, I think I chose my school. Dad and I have been talking about it for a while now. I couldn’t tell you because I thought you were going to tell everyone else. But, I think you could hold it for a week, so I’m going to Alabama.'”
Benton becomes Alabama’s third linebacker commit in the Class of 2017, joining four-stars VanDarius Cowan and Gary Johnson.
All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.
Chris Kirschner covers Alabama football recruiting for SECCountry.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play in Bryant-Denny.