One day after the Alabama football team lost wide receiver Tyrell Shavers to the transfer portal, linebacker Markail Benton has joined him there, as first reported by AL.com.
Benton was a dime package linebacker for Alabama in 2019, ending the season with 19 tackles and a pass break-up. His production was limited by a hamstring injury that kept him out of a game.
Benton graduated in December, giving him a chance at graduate transfer status with immediate eligibility.
Benton was going to be a redshirt junior for the Crimson Tide in 2020 but was suspended from the team in the spring for undisclosed reasons. If Benton had been reinstated in between April and now, Alabama head coach Nick Saban had not said so, but Saban has not had an availability with local media since that April teleconference.
Benton was a four-star prospect out of Central-Phenix City, a top 10 prospect in the state of Alabama and a top 10 outside linebacker in the nation in the 247 Sports Composite. He came to Tuscaloosa after a standout senior season in which he recorded 129 tackles, 70 solo stops, 10 tackles for loss and four sacks for a 2016 Central team that reached the state semifinals for the second straight year.
Benton participated in a Central reunion of sorts in the 2019 College Football Playoff national title game when the Crimson Tide took on former Red Devils receiver Justyn Ross and the Clemson Tigers.
“It’s a great feeling to be playing against a teammate from back in high school,” Benton said in January 2019. “I’m glad that someone from the same high school gets to experience this wonderful opportunity, because not everybody gets to experience something like this.”
In Benton’s absence, the Crimson Tide still have abundant options at inside linebacker. Last year’s starters, Shane Lee and Christian Harris, will return as sophomores, but both were filling in for injured veterans Dylan Moses and Joshua McMillon. Moses will be a redshirt junior and McMillon received a waiver for an additional year of eligibility, which he will use in 2020.
Alabama also added inside linebackers Jackson Bratton and Demouy Kennedy in its 2020 recruiting class, both in-state products from Muscle Shoals and Theodore, respectively.