Blazing speed lands Gael a scholarship to Temple

Mount St. Joseph's Sam Benjamin badly wanted a scholarship to play Division I football.

Benjamin knew as a sophomore, after his second year on the junior varsity, that he was hardly a prime candidate.

"I was kind of a little guy," said Benjamin, now a senior. "I was also very slow."

So to reach his dream, Benjamin gave his body a complete makeover with an extensive weight training program.

The wide receiver and corner back got bigger, stronger and faster, transforming himself into a 6-foot, 195-pound prize recruit in basically just one year.

That was evident this summer when he attended five football camps and came away with three scholarship offers.

Benjamin chose Temple University on July 18, giving the Owls a verbal commitment after picking them over Ohio and Marshall universities.

The college coaches loved his speed. Bejamin said he was clocked as fast as 4.40 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the Best of the Delaware-Maryland-Virginia Underclassmen Showcase in Severna Park on May 24. The Temple coaching staff wants Benjamin to play corner back.

"I have never seen a guy improve as much as he has," said Mount St. Joseph coach Blake Henry, a former Loyola Blakefield assistant. "I have seen two other guys, Terence Garvin and Leon Kinnard, at the skill position play Division I, but they were starters on varsity as sophomores.

"And they had really solid junior years on a team that won a championship," he added. "They got a lot of exposure. Sam had one year on the varsity and we won three games."

With Benjamin leading the way in Mount St. Joseph's spread offense, Henry and the Gaels expect to win more games this fall.

Henry will be able to make better use of Benjamin, who played both quarterback and wide receiver last year.

Benjamin is expected to be used as only a wide receiver on offense. He should get plenty of rushing attempts on a new Gaels' play slated for the fall — the "Rocket Sweep."

The 18-year-old will also start at safety after starting the previous three seasons at cornerback.

"His game film was decent," the coach said. "I switched his position before the season and half way through. I hope he puts up a 1,000 yards receiving and 1,000 yards rushing. That's what we are going to need him to do. I know his performance will be a lot better."

Benjamin scored four touchdowns in 2010 and had 1,000 yards combined rushing, receiving and passing.

He rushed for a season-high 95 yards on 19 carries in a 14-10 victory over host Fort Hill, of Alleganey County.

"I was getting interest from two schools: Virginia and Georgia Tech," Benjamin said of late last year. "They requested my transcripts."

Hearing from colleges and those two schools in particular pushed Benjamin to work even harder this summer, lifting weights two hours a day for four days a week.

He now bench presses 320 pounds and squats 495.

"I am the strongest person on the team right now," Benjamin said.

And Benjamin stayed busy attending football camps. He particpated in five, including ones at Temple, Ohio, Marshall and the universities of Maryland and Virginia.

"I didn't think he would get three offers by now," Henry said. "He didn't get offers because of his game film. He got them because of how fast he ran. The main reason he got a scholarship offer is because of how hard he worked."

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