Auburn Football: Is It Time for DeAngelo Benton to Emerge?

Matthew BrennanCorrespondent IIOctober 6, 2011

The Auburn Tigers will face a potent passing attack this week when they visit Arkansas, but the Tigers’ own passing game has some serious questions heading into Saturday’s game.

Senior Emory Blake, the team’s top wide receiver this season, may not be available after suffering an ankle injury in last week’s victory over South Carolina. Blake leads the Tigers this season with 333 yards and four touchdowns.

Redshirt freshman Trovon Reed will also miss another game with a shoulder injury after catching 13 passes this season. It's currently unknown when Reed will be able to return.

The potential unavailability of Auburn’s two top wide receivers will mean that a few other players will have to step up and become viable targets for Barrett Trotter. One name that comes to mind is junior DeAngelo Benton.

Benton arrived at Auburn with very high expectations. He was rated as one of the top wide receiver recruits in the nation during his high school career, but Auburn fans are still waiting for Benton to pan out. Now a junior, Benton entered the year with only seven career receptions.

Benton has only caught two passes this season, but Saturday might have seen the biggest play of his Auburn career with a 15-yard reception during the eventual game-winning drive.

Now with Blake potentially missing Saturday’s game, the time seems to be now or never if Benton is ever going to live up to his lofty recruiting status. 

According to the coaching staff, Benton worked hard through training camp, and his big play against South Carolina was a good chance for him to gain confidence.

“He’s had great practice all fall camp,” offensive coordinator Malzahn said to the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. “It was real encouraging for him to make a big play in the game helped us win.”

“I was really proud of DeAngelo Benton,” head coach Gene Chizik added to the Anniston Star. “It was third-and-13. Barrett (Trotter) had one guy draped over him and another one coming. He probably put the ball in the only place he could have put it without it being either intercepted or knocked down. DeAngelo really made a fantastic clutch catch at the right time.”

Benton has bided his time and is ready for a chance to show what he can do on the field.

“I’m just ready to play,” Benton said to the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. “I’ve been waiting since I got here. Finally the opportunity comes so I’ve got to make the best of it, continue to work hard in practice to gain confidence from the coaches.”

We will find out on Saturday if it’s finally DeAngelo Benton’s time to shine. All the pieces could be in place for the junior do his part to help Auburn defeat another ranked SEC team on the road. With Blake leaving the program after this season, it’s time for a new name to step up as Auburn’s top wide receiver. Saturday’s game will be a good test to see if Benton can challenge for the role.