For the past few seasons, Timel Benton has been a quarterback to watch.
Last weekend, the senior signal-caller from Columbia, South Carolina, rushed for a career-high 232 yards and scored four touchdowns in Gallaudet University’s first conference win of the 2021 season against Dean College.
The win over the Bulldogs bumped the Bison’s overall record to 3-0 and 1-0 in Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) play – the team’s three-straight wins matches its start from 2013, which saw Gallaudet secure an NCAA Division III first-round postseason matchup with Hobart College.
“Coach Chuck (Goldstein) called my number throughout the game and the big guy’s upfront, the slots, and wide receivers took care of the rest,” said Benton when discussing his impressive performance against the Bulldogs.
“(My teammates) opened lanes for me, and I was able to get out in space to help lead us to win. Without them, this win would not have been possible against such an athletic Bulldogs’ defense.”
Prior to rushing past numerous members of the Dean College defense, Benton threw for a season-best 265 yards and two touchdowns in his team’s 49-42 victory over Greensboro College.
Noontime Sports recently caught up with Benton to discuss his impressive rushing performance, but also what he and the team must do this weekend against Keystone College.
You rushed for a career-high 232 yards and four touchdowns in the win – do you recall rushing for that many yards or more prior to competing for Gallaudet?
In high school, I was a role player. I plugged in at positions that needed filling each week. I never got the opportunity to have big games but what matters most to me is the wins. I could have all the stats in the world, but without another one in the win column, they’re meaningless in my opinion.
It sounds cliché, but how important was it for you and your team to begin conference play with a win? How does a victory last Saturday help the team heading into this week’s contest against Keystone College?
I told the guys during pregame, “This game is what sets the tone for the rest of our season. If everyone does their job and knows their role, we’ll be just fine.”
The win over Dean has given us a spark that this program hasn’t felt in a long time. We have momentum but it’s important that we continue to stay focused and take it one game at a time.
How has your game evolved from your initial season in 2016 to this fall? What changes have you made to become not just a thrower, but also a rushing signal-caller?
When I came into the program I had no idea what to expect in this system because it was so new for me being from an air raid offense in high school. When I earned the starting job in 2016, I played off of pure athletic ability and not enough knowledge. Over time I developed into my role as a leader and with that came my understanding of this offense. Coach Chuck preaches on seeing the big picture of what our offense is based on. It took some time but I finally understood that I didn’t have to do things on my own, I just need to take what the defense gives us and get the ball into our playmakers’ hands.
To become a more effective rusher, I had to learn to limit the impacts of the hits I took in games. Over the years I’ve studied New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara’s game film and his insane workouts that improved his balance. I took a few notes from those and applied them to my workouts as well as my game.
Who is one or perhaps two (or three) quarterbacks you idolize/have studied over the past few seasons? And how has watching these quarterbacks play helped you become the signal-caller you are currently?
My two favorite quarterbacks to watch and mirror my game after are Denard Robinson (Michigan) and Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers and New England Patriots). I admire how when Denard Robinson was in tight situations he would make people miss in the smallest gaps and just explode for long runs. Additionally, I love how Cam was such a powerful force with the ball in his hand and his vibe of playing the game he just had fun with it.
Tell me about your major – what interested you in pursuing a degree in physical education and recreation? What do you hope to do with it after graduation?
In high school, I bounced between culinary, business, and graphic design. My senior year I was a middle school teacher’s assistant for PE class and loved it. I enjoy being physically active even outside of playing football and I want to dig even deeper to encourage the new generations to enjoy physical activity as well.
My plan is to go back to South Carolina and pursue my career somewhere in the physical education field. I want to work with high school students but I’ll take whatever opportunity is available.
Finally, could you see yourself coaching or finding a way to stay involved in football after your final game with the Bison?
Funny you ask, during the Covid year of 2020 I was a quarterback coach at a high school in South Carolina. I loved every second of it, and I plan on returning to be a coach once my football career comes to an end. I even have aspirations to coach college football at some point in my life.