This time last year, there weren't many folks who knew much about Middleton receiver/defensive back Richard Benjamin. He was just another prep player entering his sophomore season, struggling for a little recognition on a team fighting for respect.
But then, Benjamin says, he got more "exposure,'' both with the game of football and the people who promote promising young players. He began attending high-profile camps and combines and one by one, he rose through the rankings and earned more attention.
"I go to one camp, I'll be at the top of the (testing) charts and the next camp, they say 'just come, show up,' '' Benjamin said. "So I would show up and show out.''
Then, seemingly overnight, the 6-foot-1, 185-pound Benjamin landed Division I scholarship offers from schools across the country. Before the summer had even started, he owned offers from Southern California, Ohio State, Ohio State, Rutgers, Cincinnati, Texas Tech, Florida State, Miami, Alabama, Auburn, Kansas and West Virginia.
And after only one unofficial visit to the University of Florida in late July, he added the Gators to that list.
Another big factor that worked in Benjamin's favor is an online highlight film of his 2010 season.
"Some coaches like (USC assistant head coach) Monte Kiffin, that film is the first time they had heard of Richard,'' said Middleton coach Alonzo Ashwood. "Some say that's all they needed to see to make him an offer.''
Benjamin said he's not too concerned about what he has done on film so far. He says he's going to put a highlight reel together this fall at Middleton that will make 2010 look almost insignificant.
Considering he had only 14 catches last season, that's not too much of a stretch. But Benjamin's trademark has been his "YAC,'' or yards after the catch. There, he puts his 4.5-second 40-yard dash speed and vision of the field to best use, eluding tacklers and finding extra yardage.
Benjamin says the biggest difference between the player he is today and who he was last season is a more dedicated work ethic a more humble attitude.
"I want to show that to the rest of the guys on our team because we are not going to settle for anything less than the playoffs, Benjamin said. "The only way to do that is to work hard every play, every day, and refuse to lose.''