BAMA FOOTBALL UPDATE // Markail Benton is on track to be in Tuscaloosa

Incoming freshman linebacker Markail Benton can’t wait to get to Tuscaloosa. The Phenix City-Central standout plans to arrive at UA on May 29. In the meantime, as he’s finishing up high school exams, Benton spends every extra moment studying the highlights of former Tide star linebacker Reuben Foster.


“I watch Reuben’s highlights every day,” Benton says. “I’ve learned so much from watching him — just the way he plays the game. He’s an absolute beast. I love watching Reuben play. It motivates me to play at that level.”


Benton will arrive in Tuscaloosa as part of one of the nation’s most heralded linebacker classes. Other standouts in the group include Dylan Moses, an early enrollee, and Chris Allen and VanDarius Cowan, both slated to arrive with Benton on the 29th.


“It’s real exciting to be part of it,” Benton says. “I’ve been working out to be ready. I’m going by the plan they sent me. I’m in pretty good shape right now. But I guess I’ll find out what kind of shape I’m really in when I get there.


“I’m about 240 right now. The last time I spoke to Coach Saban, I was 245. He told me as long as I have my speed and can move, he wasn’t worried about it.”


“I talk to Coach (Derrick) Ansley, my recruiting coach, every week. He’s telling me to be ready. He said they like me on the inside. He said if I’m good enough to play outside in passing situations, they’d like to try me doing that.”


The 2017 class is the Tide’s seventh consecutive nationally top-ranked recruiting class.


“I know most of the guys from being around them at The Opening last summer and from the Under Armour Game,” Benton says. “We have some great players. We have some that when I watch their highlights, I just say, ‘Wow’.”


Which fellow freshman has wowed him the most?


“I’d have to say Najee Harris,” Benton says. “I just watched his highlights again today during PE. He’s an absolute beast. He hurdles guys. He runs through guys. He outruns guys. It’s amazing watching him.”





For the 13th-straight season, Alabama softball has earned a top-16 national seed and will host an NCAA Regional as the No. 16 overall seed, welcoming Minnesota, Louisiana Tech and Albany to Tuscaloosa. NCAA Tournament play at Rhoads Stadium begins Friday, May 19.


The NCAA Tournament appearance is the 19th-straight for Alabama, having done so every year since 1999. Alabama has earned a top-16 national seed 15 times, including a hosting streak of 13-straight starting in 2005. The Tide is 84-39 (.659) all-time in NCAA Regional play and has won every regional round since 2005, the longest active streak in Division-I softball. Alabama has not lost a game in regional play since 2007, a streak of 31-consecutive games.


Action at the Tuscaloosa Regional will begin on Friday, May 19 when Minnesota faces Louisiana Tech at 1:30 p.m. CT on before Alabama takes on Albany at 4 p.m. CT live on the SEC Network.


The Minnesota Golden Gophers (54-3) earned the Big 10’s automatic bid after winning their second-straight tournament title. Minnesota was the league’s regular-season champion as well, finishing conference play with a 21-1 Big 10 record. Senior pitcher Sara Groenewegen is a top 10 finalist for USA Softball Player of the Year and has a 30-2 record with a 0.59 ERA and 280 strikeouts over 190.0 innings pitched. Minnesota was ranked No. 4 in both national polls heading into last weekend. Alabama has only faced Minnesota once in program history, a 2-0 Crimson Tide win on Feb. 10, 2000 at the Metrodome Classic in Minneapolis.


Louisiana Tech (34-22) won the automatic bid for Conference USA, the program’s first league title since 2008 and 10th overall. Six players were named to the all-conference team, including Newcomer of the Year Krystal De La Cruz, a sophomore pitcher who leads the team with a 2.00 ERA over 105.0 innings pitched. Alabama has won all four of its meetings against Louisiana Tech, last facing off in a doubleheader on March 27, 2007.


Albany (27-16) won its sixth America East title this weekend, its second in the last four seasons. Senior utility player Elizabeth Snow was name the league’s Player of the Year, leading the team with a .439 batting average and 50 hits, including 13 home runs and 46 RBIs. Alabama has met Albany four times in program history, winning all four. The last meeting came on Feb. 14, 2004, a 12-0 win for the Crimson Tide.


The winner of the Tuscaloosa regional will advance to face the winner of the Gainesville Regional, hosted by top-seeded Florida. Other teams playing in Gainesville include Oklahoma State, Florida International and Florida A&M.


Courtesy: UA Media Relations





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