Xavier Benson wins state title, ready to sign with Texas Tech
ARLINGTON, Tex. -- Xavier Benson couldn’t have capped off his high school career any better.
He and his Texarkana-Pleasant Grove won their 4A-DII state championship game against West Orange-Stark, 41-21, but he personally delivered the final blow with a 22-yard interception return for a touchdown with 15 seconds remaining in the game.
“I saw that play before it even happened,” he said. “They had me on their number-three receiver, I knew the flat route was coming, and I had to get me a little something here at the end of the game.”
Benson may have been the most recognizable recruit on the field in the game, following his commitment to Texas Tech earlier this fall, but he was arguably more impactful for Pleasant Grove on offense than at his more familiar linebacker position. In addition to his pick-six, he had 3.5 tackles on defense, but he also finished with a game-high four catches for 114 yards on offense.
“It’s amazing,” he said. “Going 16-0 for my senior season, having a perfect record, I wouldn’t change nothing. I gave everything I had to this program. Blood, sweat and tears and I finished with a state title. I’m happy, I’m proud - I’m just so happy.”
Benson didn’t sign his letter of intent during the recent early signing period this month, but said that’s simply because he wants to sign with all of his teammates in February. His decision to wait wasn’t indicative of any hesitation to be a Red Raider next year.
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“We know the relationship is good; I’m going to Texas Tech,” he said. “I don’t believe anybody’s going to come in and try and recruit me. I’m not interested in that anyway.”
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“As a commit, that has you a little scared,” he said. “You don’t know what a new coach might want at his program. I’m just happy that I have Coach Kingsbury to coach me next year and I’m ready to go put some numbers up.”
It’s not uncommon for a standout defensive player to be game-planned against and not always come away with the sort of stats that might be expected of him. Keeping the plays away from Benson’s side of the field funneled many plays towards middle linebacker and game defensive MVP Caleb Porchia. Meanwhile, Benson’s length and athleticism had to be taken into account and he played with the sort of range that is going to be needed in a weakside linebacker at Tech.