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Benson running with confidence again this spring

Trey Benson was viewed as a high-risk pickup out of the transfer portal. But there are early indications that Florida State coaches will be rewarded for gambling on the running back.

Benson suffered ACL, MCL and meniscus tears in his knee while playing at Oregon in Dec. 2020. But he has steadily worked his way back to the field and this spring Benson runs full throttle.

“Each and every day it gets better for me confidence-wise,” Benson said. “My confidence has been through the room since I’ve been here.”

Benson ran just six times for 22 yards and a touchdown as a redshirt freshman at Oregon in 2021, still getting comfortable with his knee and within the Ducks’ offense. A native of Greenville, Miss., Benson wanted to attend college closer to home. He remembered watching another Mississippi prep standout, Cam Akers, racking up wild numbers in high school and then rush for a pair of 1,000-yard seasons at FSU. 

Benson transferred to FSU and is fitting in quite well. While there were initial questions about his injury history, Benson’s runs have provided an emphatic answer. If there were any knee issues they aren’t evident in open practices and Benson doesn’t wear a green, non-contact jersey or a knee brace in practices. 

Coach Mike Norvell mentioned that Benson had a “big” touchdown run in Saturday’s scrimmage, and Benson noted that in a recent scrimmage he began to feel “like I was myself again.”

“Making cuts off my right leg with no problem,” Benson said. “I couldn’t do that five months ago.”

Benson has joined a running back group that will miss Jashaun Corbin, who opted to enter the NFL draft early. It’s plausible that Norvell will use a committee approach instead of leaning on a workhorse No. 1 back, and the Seminoles can use a combination of Treshaun Ward, Lawrance Toafili and Benson as well as DJ Williams, Rodney Hill and walk-on CJ Campbell. 

“I’m the bigger back — I bring speed and power,” Benson said. “Tre (Ward) is shifty. Him and LT. They hold me accountable all the time. CJ and DJ, they’re both like bowling balls. But they are both really good. Rodney is going to be really good. He’s just scratching the surface. He doesn’t know how strong he is.”

FSU fans are just starting to see the type of impact Benson could have in 2022. The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Benson has often shown his power and burst, popping through the line of scrimmage and breaking off long runs. 

“He’s running hard,” FSU offensive coordinator Alex Atkins said earlier this spring. “He’s picking up the plays. He is focused and I love just his approach to going in and competing with a pretty established room. I’m liking the progression I’m seeing.”

Saturday’s spring game represents a big opportunity for Benson to show what he can offer to the coaches and FSU’s fans. And his family won’t have to travel nearly as far.

“This is going to be my first spring game,” Benson said. “Last year, I was hurt so I wasn’t able to do it. I’m really excited. And my family is going to be here too. This is going to be their first time seeing me play in a long time.”