Prairie View A&M + Alcorn State Offer Pleasant Grove’s Xavier Benson
[Updated: 2:55 p.m.]
Xavier Benson has his third and fourth offers in a four-day span.
Prairie View A&M reached out to the junior Pleasant Grove linebacker Friday morning and Alcorn State did the same in the afternoon hours to become the fourth and fifth interested NCAA Division I programs. Benson reported the news directly to ETSN.fm.
Benson (6-3, 200) helped guide Pleasant Grove to the third round of the Class 4A Division II state playoffs last season. He had 89 tackles and tied for the team lead in takeaways with four through the 13-game campaign.
Pleasant Grove also utilizes Benson as a heavy receiver on the high school level. He caught nine balls for 122 yards and two touchdowns out of an offense that utilizes the Wing-T formation.
Benson's offers are split between FBS and FCS schools. In addition to Prairie View A&M and Alcorn State, he has FCS interest from Cornell. His FBS choices are Louisiana-Lafayette and Tulane.
Prairie View A&M enters the mix with a new $60 million, 15,000-seat stadium as one of its largest selling points. Panther Stadium at Blackshear Field opened last season and replaced a 6,000-seat facility that was built in 1960.
The Panthers program's new stadium gives some insight into what the board of regents is thinking for the university long-term. It was built to be relatively easily expandable to 30,000 seats, which would make the school eligible for the FBS level of competition.
Coached by Willie Simmons, the Panthers posted a 7-4 record last season and own a 15-6 record under the headman through two years. The 2016 team finished third in the West Division of the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
Should Prairie View A&M win the West Division, it would play in the SWAC championship game at the Houston Texans' NRG Stadium. That game feeds into a season finale called the Celebration Bowl at the Atlanta Falcons' new Mercedes-Benz Stadium against the winner of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference with the historically black colleges and universities national championship on the line.
The tradeoff for the SWAC and MEAC league champions is they play the bowl game in lieu of competing in the FCS playoffs.
Under varying formats, Prairie View A&M has won the historically black colleges and universities national championship five times in its 109-year history. It has 11 conference championship banners.
Alcorn State, located in Lorman, Miss., plays in the East Division of the SWAC and most recently went to the Celebration Bowl in 2015, which helped promote former coach Jay Hopson to an FBS job at Southern Miss.
Fred McNair oversaw a younger Braves team this past campaign and led the squad to a 5-6 record in his first season.
Alcorn State has won five historically black colleges and universities national championships, the latest in 2014, and owns 15 SWAC banners.
Benson, like all college football prospects currently in their junior year of high school, will become eligible to sign with any school that offers him in February.