By: Tony Thomas
Out in the West Texas town of Midland, high school football fans fell in love with a running back that left his mark on the gridiron, a legacy that will never be forgotten. He will be remembered as one of the Lone Star State’s best ever to put on the pads and strap on a helmet. His name was Cedric Benson.
A Championship Hat Trick
The Lee Rebels won three consecutive state titles from 1998-2000. At 5-11, 195 pounds, Benson carved up defenses like a Ginsu knife with huge thighs, and scored 15 touchdowns in those three title games.
1998 vs San Antonio MacArthur (Title Game)
Defeated Lubbock Coronado 34-7
Defeated El Paso Andress 55-14
Defeated Copperas Cove 43-17
Defeated S. Grand Prairie 20-7
Defeated MacArthur 54-0
Benson rushed for 238 yards and 5 touchdowns. He scored on runs of 4 yards, 58 yards, 1 yard and 49 yards. And, he scored on a 44-yard pass play.
The Rebels defense held MacArthur to just 166 yards of total offense.
1999 vs Aldine Eisenhower (Title Game)
Defeated San Angelo Central 55-19
Defeated El Paso Franklin 34-20
Defeated Waco 44-20
Defeated Mesquite 44-20
Defeated Aldine Eisenhower 42-21
Benson rushed for 192 yards and 5 TDs. He scored on runs on 1 yard, 38 yards, 3 yards, and 5 yards. And, he scored on a 78-yard pass play.
The Rebels held Eisenhower scoreless in the first half.
Benson’s rushing totals for the 1999 season= 3,526 yards, 51 TDs.
2000 vs Austin Westlake (Title Game)
Defeated San Angelo Central 38-0
Defeated El Paso Franklin 45-14
Defeated Duncanville 44-9
Defeated The Woodlands 13-3
Defeated Austin Westlake 33-21
Benson rushed for 249 yards on a whopping 40 carries, and scored 5 TDs. He scored on runs of 47 yards, 4 yards, 4 yards, 13 yards, 10 yards. The Rebels outscored their playoff opponents 140-26.
Cedric rushed for 2865 yards his senior year.
Midland Lee went 43-3 over their three championship years. Benson was named the Class 5A Offensive Player of the Year three times and was also named a Parade All-American his senior year.
He rushed for 8,418 career yards on 974 carries. Benson recorded six 300-yard rushing games and is ranked eighth on the all-time Texas high school rushing list.
A Longhorn Legend
Benson took his football talent to the campus of the University of Texas at Austin. In his first season, he set the Longhorns freshman rushing record with 1,053 yards and 12 TDs.
His senior year: 1834 yards and 19 TDs. He won the Doak Walker Award, given to the nation’s top running back. He helped lead the Longhorns to an 11-1 record and a Rose Bowl win over Michigan. And, he was named an All-American.
Benson rushed for 5,540 career yards at Texas, which is #2 on the school list behind only Ricky Williams.
To the Pros
Benson was drafted in the first round (#4 overall) by the Chicago Bears. Although he struggled with the Bears, he later played for the Cincinnati Bengals. Once there, he posted three consecutive 1000-yard seasons from 2009-2011.
Gone, But Not Forgotten
On August 17, 2019, Benson was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident at the age of 36.
He will always be remembered as a tremendous athlete and one of the best ever from the State of Texas. A hard runner who left it all on the field in pursuit of greatness.
When you see the number “32”, you think of Cedric Benson of Midland Lee.
“Benson will live in hearts, minds of many for years”,
By Christopher Hadorn, mrt.com
August 24, 2019