WVU linebacker Al-Rasheed Benton is the most experienced and top overall defensive player on the team.
He showed why he remains the best by helping to secure the Mountaineers victory against Baylor. The game could have easily swept away from West Virginia, but Al-Rasheed Benton’s play on defense helped keep the team in position to nurse the lead.
According to the Daily Athenaeum, Al-Rasheed Benton set a new personal best with 4.5 tackles for a loss against the Bears. He has consistently led the team in tackles in each game this season and for Benton to keep up his torrid pace is a big reason why the Mountaineers held on to beat the Bears.
His previous best this season was three tackles for a loss against Delaware State. Al-Rasheed Benton has 60 total tackles this season. Against Kansas was his first double-digit effort with 12 in that game.
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On a defense that continuously struggled and always draws gripe from fans, Benton sticks out because he is talented and he has the statistics to prove that he is one of the best linebackers in the Big 12 Conference. He has been one of the leaders since he started in 13 games as a junior and Benton is showing he is making all of his senior year count as something special.
Defensive coordinator Tony Gibson has drawn a lot of scorn this season, too. But in year’s past he has been heralded as a genius. The Mountaineers lost a lot of defense last season and Gibson is tasked with making the pieces fit in the most efficient way possible. That hasn’t been easy with injuries all over the field and young players not quite reaching their full potential in their first year on the Mountaineers.
There are also a number of fifth-year transfers on the defense. And, while they have played at the Division I level, they haven’t quite taken to the schemes run by Gibson and WVU.
Benton has been a key cog on defense this season and he continues to be the epitome of persistence, dedication and consistency. He had big plays throughout the game and his play may have worn off on Xavier Preston, who had the biggest play of the game by sacking Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer on a two-point conversion. Preston also had a 12-yard sack late in the fourth quarter that allowed WVU to keep some momentum when it needed it most.
Preston and Benton are both seniors who are playing their best football at the right time. They are both good sized at around 6-foot-2 and 250 pounds. They have the make up and the skills to be playing at the next level.
There’s a few more games left for Xavier Preston and Al-Rasheed Benton to make their case to get drafted by an NFL team. It didn’t hurt that the best games of their career came in a primetime Big 12 contest.