Deangelo Benton, from Bastrop, is a really good prospect at wide receiver. The problem is that he has struggled to qualify academically. He signed with LSU in 2007, but fell short of qualifying. He spent a semester at Hargrave Military Academy, where he got so close to qualifying that he moved to Baton Rouge to be close to the team while taking a couple of correspondence courses to get him the rest of the way. The problem is, it didn't work. He didn't make it. He won't be a part of the 2008 football team, but he has not given up.
According to The Advocate, Deangelo Benton is back in Bastrop, working with his old high school coach Brad Bradshaw, and both are committed to getting Benton qualified. The article is short, but densely packed with good information, and I think the key quote is this one:
“I just think he’s got a lot of negativity, that a lot of people didn’t understand the whole situation,” Bradshaw said. “He screwed up. I’m not totally taking up for him, but sometimes we need to know the whole situation. I told him to come back to Bastrop because there’s not going to be any negative in my office. There’s no pressure and nobody’s pulling at him. I just want him to finish up what he started and go play college football.”
I don't know if the negativity is from the message boards, from people around the program, or who. I know this Brad Bradshaw guy says all the right things though. A lot of people would be tempted to give up on a kid, and a lot of people who don't know would be quick to condemn him for not being able to qualify, but we have to remember these are still teenagers (or close to it). Some of them got way behind, and some of them aren't mature enough to be on their own, and remember that Benton living in Baton Rouge was not under the regular football team umbrella.
A lot of people ask, "If he has so much trouble qualifying, how can we expect him to stay eligible if he ever makes it?" It's not a bad question, but there's an answer. Usually, players who struggle to qualify academically end up just fine in school if they ever actually make it. At LSU, football players get gobs of support from tutors and there is a very fine Academic Center that is a big draw for recruits. If you make it to the team, chances are you will stay with the team academically. Chad Lavalais tried for 3 years to qualify to get into LSU, and once he made it he never had academic problems. Justin Vincent couldn't get qualified straight out of high school, and he ended up fine.
Benton is a guy who has NFL potential, but he's still a kid. He's a guy we will wait for. Not having him this year hurts, but if we ever get him we'll be better for it.