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Trey Benson grew up following in the footsteps of former Florida State tailback Cam Akers.
It wasn’t hard for Benson, who took up football while growing up in Mississippi. He saw the older Akers excel on the gridiron from his days as a talented middle-schooler to a standout quarterback at nearby Clinton High, where he would lead the Arrows to a state championship in 2016.
“I watched Cam since he was in middle school and I was in elementary school,” said Benson, who attended school at nearby St. Joseph Catholic in Greenville. “I watched him growing up when he was at Clinton, scoring seven touchdowns in the state championship game and then going to Florida State.”
Akers spent three seasons at FSU, where he became just the third Seminole to have multiple 1,000-yard rushing seasons (2017, 2019), joining Warrick Dunn and Dalvin Cook. The Los Angeles Rams would select him in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
“I try to model my game on Cam,” said Benson.
Benson’s college career took him to the Pacific Northwest, where he signed with Oregon as part of the Ducks’ 2020 recruiting class. He was the No. 21 overall running back in the country after totaling 3,616 yards and 48 touchdowns in two seasons in high school.
But Benson redshirted his first year after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament, medial collateral ligament, lateral meniscus and medial meniscus. After rehabbing the injury, he returned to appear in 10 games last season, rushing for 22 yards on 6 carries.
“The process was hard. Rehab was hard,” said Benson. “I had to come in every day and work twice as hard as anyone else. I tore everything, and I feel like it was for the best because it made me who I am today.
“Right now, I’m 100% and I feel very confident in my knee. This past season, I was hesitant and took reps in practice every day, but now I’m 100%.”
Benson decided to enter the transfer portal on Jan. 13, and less than a week later he signed with Florida State. He was nervous about his decision, but after Oregon coach Mario Cristobal left to take the Miami head coaching job he felt it was the right move.
It didn’t hurt that he had a previous relationship with FSU coach Mike Norvell.
“That was my first offer from high school,” said Benson. “Coach Norvell is a great coach and I wanted to give him an opportunity, but I had bigger plans at Oregon. Now, I have the chance to give him that opportunity, so I’m in Tallahassee now.”
Benson joins a relatively young running backs unit with redshirt junior D.J. Williams as the only upperclassman on the roster. The group features Treshaun Ward and Lawrance Toafili.
At 6-foot-1, 215-pounds, Benson provides the size and speed to help replace Jashaun Corbin.
“There’s not a primary back right now, so we’re all going to come competing,” he added.
A self-professed mama’s boy, Benson wanted to be somewhere closer to his family and the six-hour drive allowed his parents to see him play football.
“My family — they’re scared to fly,” Benson explained. “So, being six hours away from home, that’s a blessing that they can always drive. Oregon was 36 hours away and 36 hours is a hard drive, so you want to fly, but they didn’t want to fly.”
Benson joins former Oregon receiver Mycah Pittman, who also signed with FSU as a transfer this offseason. The Seminoles have signed 10 transfers to their 2022 recruiting class with edge rusher Jared Verse, linebacker Tatum Bethune, offensive linemen Bless Harris and Kayden Lyles, receivers Winston Wright, Deuce Spann, Johnny Wilson and Pittman, defensive back Greedy Vance and Benson.