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Jeff Sentell/DawgNation
Class of 2023 DL prospect Justin Benton will be one of the highest-rated players in the nation when he is a senior.

WATCH: 2023 Elite legacy recruit Justin Benton explains why Georgia is ‘home’

Want to attack every day with the latest UGA football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel brings. This entry will offer the first chance for DawgNation to meet 2023 legacy prospect Justin Benton of Newton High in Metro Atlanta. 

COVINGTON, Ga. — Justin Benton is already so polished and smooth. Those terms will describe this young 2023 prospect aptly, but there are plenty more to work with here.

Capable. Determined. Violent.

Those descriptors all convey what he looks like on the field with his V-12 motor in the trenches for Newton High. Benton is already so very adept with using his hands to fight off and disengage from blocks.

“Everything I do I want to make it excellent,” Justin Benton told DawgNation. “That’s just my mindset. My mindset is to be great in everything I do in the classroom, on the football field, and in the house with my family. Taking care of everything. Taking care of business straight and doing everything with greatness.”

They could also sum up what he is like in an interview setting.

Benton still has three more seasons of high school football to go. And yet he’s as smooth as any senior when it comes to discussing what he’s looking for in a future college fit.

It might be that 4.0 grade-point average that he finished his freshman year with talking. But likely not.

The 6-foot-2, 240-pounder set a goal last January to work hard enough to be ready to start for Newton’s varsity. He did just that in the spring game while he was in middle school.

He extended that goal into his freshman year in 2019. Benton was named to his respective 8-7A All-Region team after 79 tackles, 16 tackles for losses and nine sacks. He also forced two fumbles.

There’s just one way to describe the way he fires off the ball: Incredible 

Maxpreps.com named him a 2020 preseason sophomore All-American heading into this fall and with good reason. He’s already made a commitment to play in the 2023 Under Armour All-American Game, too. He just turned 15 in January and already has more than 20-plus offers.

His father, Phillip, played defense for Georgia and lettered in 1994 and 1995. Georgia was one of those schools to already extend an offer. The Bulldogs were the third school to offer him.

It is nigh-impossible for Benton to describe UGA and his handful of visits there without using the term “home” as he goes along. That’s where Dad played after all.

“I just want people to know that he’s not preaching Georgia football to me every five seconds,” Justin Benton said. “That’s something I want people to know. Some people just jump to conclusions that he’s preaching that to me every five minutes but he is not. He’s just preaching to me to be a great football player. He’s been doing that to me since I was seven years old.”

But it doesn’t sound like that is necessary either.

“What goes through my mind about Georgia is home,” Justin Benton said. “I just get that home feeling every time we have been there. I love coach Kirby [Smart] and I love the whole staff at Georgia so I just think that is home.”

Georgia has known about Benton since he came for a Kirby Smart Football Camp when he was in the eighth grade. His father introduced him to Smart. Smart told him his Dad was “mean” and he told Justin that he already had good size for his age.

Check out his freshman tape below.

Did you know the weekly DawgNation.com “Before the Hedges” program is now available as an Apple podcast? Click to check it out and download it.

Justin Benton-Georgia recruiting-Georgia football
Newton High sophomore Justin Benton is already an All-American and an impressive leader on his high school team. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

Check out the DawgNation interview with Justin Benton

Benton spoke with DawgNation recently about a number of topics. Those included:

  • What should people really know about his father’s legacy and his influence on his future college choice?
  • What is his mindset about checking out all these college offers?
  • What is he looking for in a college fit?
  • How far is he really away from a college decision?
  • Smart played football at UGA with his father. What was it like when he first met the Georgia coach? 
  • What does he like best about the opportunity to play at UGA? 

Those topics are all surveyed in the video in the featured position atop this blog. They are also in this embedded DawgNation YouTube file below.

Justin Benton: There will be a lot of stories to come about this fella

“Phenomenal athlete. Great work ethic. Very coachable. Very humble. Eager to learn. Wants to be the best.”

Newton High assistant and recruiting coordinator Josh Skelton used those terms to describe the 2023 recruit. It is hard to imagine anyone doing it any better or with any more efficiency than that.

Skelton has a bunch of stories about Benton. When asked to share his best, he wanted to see if he could get away with bringing up at least two.

Perhaps his best one involved the color-coded workout gear the members of the Rams team wear in the weight room. Except there was one Newton player, a rising senior, who wore the wrong colors one day.

“We had said that we are going to do 300 squats if a guy comes in here with the wrong colors,” Skelton said.

That rising senior did just that. But the seniors had decided they wanted to ask one guy to take on all 300 of those payment squats for the rest of the team.

“But then Justin raised his hand and said he would do every squat for that guy,” Skelton said. “On top of that, I felt like that was the day he became a leader on the team. He did every squat by himself. That’s also when his respect came from the older guys on our team, too.”

Justin Benton-Georgia recruiting-Georgia football
Justin Benton has earned the utmost respect among his team and his Newton High coaching staff. He is the definition of a high-effort player. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

Benton broke those 300 squats into sets of 50. There were approximately 185 pounds placed on the bar.

“He got up under that bar and just knocked them out,” Skelton said. “He took a lot of pain that day but that is our culture here. That was the birth of Justin Benton in our team culture that day. He got a lot of respect that day. Everything started going forward for him that day on our team.”

My gosh. Just a freshman.

“Nobody looked at him as a freshman that day,” Skelton said. “He was more of a veteran from that point on.”

Benton will be an ideal “3” or “4” or “5” technique defensive lineman on Saturdays. He doesn’t have the elite height to be an edge rusher, but he will still be a 5-star recruit when he is a senior.

He flashes some impressive athleticism these days working out as an OLB and a defensive back for Newton’s defense during his summer workouts. Look for him to play a lot at linebacker this fall. He has the feet and skills for it. Benton is even drilling as a TE and a WR some for the Rams in some summer drills.

“Justin is not scared to be vulnerable,” Skelton said. “I think what you have a lot of days especially in my experience in this day and age you have a lot of players whether they are top athletes or below-average athletes they are too cool for people to see them tired or at an exhausted stage.”

Benton will throw up in the weight room. Or after 25 sets of 110-yard sprints.

“For Justin, it is the very opposite,” Skelton said. “All his respect has come from him giving 100 percent. Justin has grown up in the weight room. Boom. He goes right to it. Gets tired. Goes again. We have our conditioning tests of 110s. Justin will throw up between a rep. But never miss one. He’ll get right back to it. Everyone sees him give 100-percent effort.”

“He is a guy that you will never see stop before the line. He will run through the line whatever sprint or whatever we are doing he is going to do a great job of finishing. He’s not afraid to be vulnerable or give it all in front of whomever. I think he has got an incredible mindset and it led to great things in his freshman year.”

Justin Benton-Georgia recruiting-Georgia football
Justin Benton is certainly a name for DawgNation to know in the 2023 recruiting cycle. Or any recruiting cycle really. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

SENTELL’S INTEL

(the recent reads on DawgNation.com)

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