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March 3, 2014

VTO B'ham: LB Benton shines

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- The VTO Sports camp held at Parker High School brought together 104 athletes mainly consisting of players from the state of Alabama. There were also a few participants from Florida, Georgia and Tennessee.

QBs earn top honors

There were plenty of players who could have earned the MVP award with top performances on each side of the ball. Seth Franks, quarterback from Tuscaloosa County High School in Northport, walked away as the MVP of the day. Franks demonstrated precision in his short and intermediate passes. He also proved he can throw the long ball.

"It means a lot to me," Franks said. "Last year I competed, and I got top five again. This year getting top five and MVP made me realize I have been working hard during the off-season and getting better. I feel like the biggest thing I have improved is my footwork."

Franks has taken recent visits to Alabama and Mississippi State. He is receiving a lot of interest from Akron, Southern Miss and West Virginia. Auburn has also started showing interest.

Franks edged out Keilan Knight, quarterback from Center Point High School in Ala., as the MVP. Knight did win the camp 'sleeper' award given to the best player who entered the event without much recruiting attention. He was heavily considered as the event's top performer as he showcased a very strong arm and accuracy. He also had excellent footwork. Knight earned an invite to the Rivals Camp Series presented by Under Armour on March 16 at Hoover High School for his performance.

"It's a really good feeling," Knight said after learning of his invite to the Rivals camp. "I came out here under the radar. My goal was to show the coaches what I could do. I think I proved that today. I think I did pretty well. There were a lot of good quarterbacks out there. I felt like I was a step ahead of them today."

Knight has not received any offers at this point. He is receiving interest from Arkansas State, East Carolina, Middle Tennessee, Ole Miss, Missouri and Western Kentucky. It may not take long for him to receive a lot more attention.

Freshman sensation

There were several camp participants who will have the opportunity to play on the next level. Smitherman can challenge most throughout the country for number of scholarship offers. However, the best overall prospect who competed was Markail Benton, a 2017 linebacker from Central High School in Phenix City, Ala. Benton started as a freshman for the Class 6A program this past fall. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound prospect caught a lot of eyes during the agility and individual drills. He stole the show in the one-on-ones and seven-on-seven.

Benton has not received an offer as of yet. Those will come in the dozens throughout the next few years. He will attend the Rivals Camp Series presented by Under Armour at Hoover High School in two weeks. He also earned an invite to the Rivals Underclassmen Challenge this summer with his performance. He was named the linebacker MVP of the VTO camp.

"It was a great camp," said Benton. "I liked how we did everything. There were some really good coaches out there. It was really good to compete. I think I got better today. It was great to earn the MVP award. That was big. My goal was to come out here and earn an invite to the Rivals Underclassmen Challenge. I came out here and went to work."

DBs steal the show

Smitherman lived up to the hype as he shut down every receiver he went up against during the one-on-ones. Smitherman is a fiesty 160 pounds and showcased his jamming ability and elite coverage skills.

There were quite a few defensive backs who wanted to see how they matched up with Smitherman. He was the measuring stick, and several defensive backs were impressive including John Broussard, cornerback from Central High School in Phenix City, Ala. Broussard walked away with the defensive back MVP award.

"It was a good camp," said Broussard. "I really liked it. I felt like I got better at doing the drills. It was good competition in the one-on-ones. My size, long arms and speed and are my strengths. It felt really good to win the MVP award. It felt really good beating out Maurice Smitherman. He is a good player. I went to the VTO camp last year and made the top five. It felt really good to win the MVP for the first time."

The 5-foot-11, 164-pound prospect is receiving heavy interest from Kentucky. He has also received letters from Auburn, Georgia, Nebraska and Northern Illinois. He should see his offer list take flight during the spring.

Position MVPs: Seth Franks (Overall, QB), Keilan Knight (Sleeper, QB), Tre Nation, Anthony Conwell, Justin Foster (TE), Stanley Smith (OL), Walter Pritchett (DL), Markail Benton (LB), Jonathan Broussard (DB).

Rivals Camp invites: Keilan Knight, Terick Miller, Markail Benton (Underclassmen Challenge), Jonathan Toney.

Twitter: @AndrewJBone



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