Posted: 4:27 pm Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

Glades Central’s Kelvin Benjamin deciding between Florida, Florida State 

By Matt Porter

In his three years as Glades Central coach, Jessie Hester hasn’t had a recruit like Kelvin Benjamin.

“He has well over 40 offers,” Hester said. “It’s ridiculous. From Oregon back east to Syracuse. He’s a mega-recruit. Whoever gets him, he’s going to put them right in contention.”

Though Miami, LSU and a few others are in the mix, it appears that Benjamin will pull on a Florida or Florida State cap on signing day.

Benjamin (6-6, 220, No. 2 on the Big Board) enjoyed last weekend’s official visit to Florida State, during which he saw the Noles’ 31-7 win over the Gators. He hasn’t taken an official visit to Florida, but has made the trek to Gainesville several times since last season.

“It’s definitely going to come down to those two schools,” Hester said.

Miami was in the hunt for Benjamin, who has expressed a strong desire to stay in-state. But with Randy Shannon’s dismissal, Hester said he doesn’t think Miami is still on Benjamin’s list. That could change if Miami lands the right coach.

“It’s going to have to be a big-name guy, an offensive-minded guy,” Hester said. “Someone who’s going to come in and really throw the ball around.”

One factor Miami has in its favor: “It’s a lot easier to be in Miami than Tallahassee, for his family,” Hester said.

Benjamin will take an unofficial visit to West Virginia this week — coincidentally, Park Vista running back Tre Mason will be there on an official visit — but Hester said the Mountaineers would have to “overwhelm him.”

“He’s going to take a hard look at them,” Hester said. “But he’s going to have to say ‘Wow, I didn’t know the school had all that to offer.’”

Benjamin, ranked as the No. 80 recruit in the country and ninth among wide receivers, has also taken an official visit to Marshall, but has not shown interest in the school. Hester said Benjamin could take his remaining official visits to UF, UM, and LSU, which he said has an “outside chance” to land him. That’s because of Benjamin’s closeness with LSU wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales, who left UF last season.

Benjamin (6-6, 220, No. 2 on the Big Board) hasn’t played since Oct. 22, when his high school eligibility expired. FHSAA regulations state a student-athlete can be no older than 19 years, 9 months. Hester said he speaks with Benjamin briefly every day, and the senior has performed well in the classroom.

He has committed to play in the Offense-Defense Bowl Jan. 31 in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

‘Fire burning’ in the Glades: Like many area coaches, Hester has been busy hosting college recruiters. Florida, Kansas, Tulsa, Buffalo and Eastern Illinois were on campus earlier this week.

“We’re seeing the fire start to burn,” he said.

The Gators have shown interest in senior wide receiver Davonte Allen (6-2, 185, No. 18 on the Big Board), who has offers from West Virginia, Marshall, USF and several others.

Allen has emerged from Benjamin’s shadow, making several acrobatic catches in the last few weeks. Hester said Kansas and Tulsa are highly interested.

Senior defensive end Robert Way (6-2, 200, No. 8 on the Big Board), who has offers from Syracuse, Marshall and Buffalo. Way set Glades Central’s single-season sack record last season (24) but hasn’t heard much from programs during the season. “He will be a steal, no question about it,” Hester said.