When Florida State running back Trey Benson arrived in Tallahassee, there were questions about how he’d adjust in his first year.
In spring football, he was initially limited after injuries suffered with the Oregon Ducks, where he hadn’t really seen the field often. In 2021, he played 14 offensive snaps — none in 2020 (per PFF).
As a high school prospect, he was the No. 21 overall running back prospect (No. 6 in Mississippi) with offers from Oregon, UNC, Louisville, ASU, Notre Dame, Penn State and FSU. He also reportedly ran a 4.49 40-yard dash (though at this point in time, I believe he’s faster).
After not playing much at all he entered the transfer portal and chose the Seminoles 5 days later, he was clearly talented but had questions about him being able to stay healthy.
In 2021, Norvell was able to produce a good run game with Treshaun Ward and Jashaun Corbin. But Corbin entered the NFL draft and that left opportunities for another player.
“He’s been wonderful. You see the confidence. You see the toughness. He’s such an explosive back. He just battles. With each carry that he gets, he’s coming into his own. When you get to know the young man, I mean, he’s just one you want to root for, too.”
Benson now has 965 yards in 12 games with 595 of those yards coming in the last 5 games. With a bowl game left in 2022, he has a shot at becoming the next 1,000-yard rusher before a chance to become the next NFL running back to come through Tallahassee — either this year or next.
At the beginning of the season, Treshaun Ward was the Seminoles lead running back with Benson getting no more than 11 rushing attempts (vs. Duquesne) in a game.
In the Seminoles' fourth game and first conference home game of the season versus Boston College, he was able to open the game up with an impressive return touchdown.
Overall Benson played well and had some special moments early on but Treshaun Ward got 10-15 rushing attempts per game and was leading all running backs in snaps.
Ward left FSU’s game vs. NC State with an injury and never became the starter again after that game.
Starting with their matchup against Georgia Tech, Benson was listed as the starter and never looked back. He got between 14-20 rushing attempts per game and for four of the five games, he rushed for over 100+ yards.
Benson was a broken tackle machine finishing with 77 broken tackles forced in only 141 rushing attempts. No running back with 50 or more forced broken tackles finished with fewer rushing attempts.
Love how at the end of this Trey Benson run, he doesn’t just take what he can get and go out of bounds. He throws his shoulder into the defender. Dude just loves contact.— Curt Weiler (@CurtMWeiler) November 6, 2022
And then daps up the defender who hit him after the play. A sign of respect? pic.twitter.com/MVg01OWgmW
But this broken tackle and run against Florida was something else:
Benson is great at breaking tackles and being a physical back, but he is more than that. His ability to hit the edge and turn on the afterburners is what makes him truly elite.
He has a lot of highlights in space, when you give him that room to run he has special speed.
Benson is the rare combination of size, speed, and strength. He is very talented and even if he does not declare for the NFL draft this year he will be playing on Sundays in the future.
I wanted to put his special 5-game stretch into perspective, over that stretch:
- 119 yards per game
- 6 TDs
- 40 broken tackles forced
- 82.4 yards after contact per game
- 5.9 yards per rushing attempt
Over a 12-game regular season that puts him in some elite company:
- 1,428 yards
- 14 TDs
- 96 broken tackles forced
- 989 yards after contact
Those numbers rank among the best in the country across the board and would have him with one of the best seasons from a ‘Noles running back since Dalvin Cook.
He finished the season with an average of 6.8 yards per carry which ranks 3rd amongst FSU starting running backs since the 2005 season with only Chris Thompson in 2012 and Dalvin Cook in 2015 finishing with a higher yard per carry average.
I was able to watch Benson in spring practice and while he was clearly physically talented and stood out at 6’1 215, practice play does not always correlate to game day.
Something that really stood out at the time and impressed me was his motivation and determination. I remembered this moment when he talked about being the Seminoles' next 1,000-yard rusher referencing another ‘Noles running back from Mississippi.
While he may or may not show what he looks like under Mike Norvell again, his impact will not be forgotten as he was the engine of the rushing offense over their 5-game win streak to end 2022.
The Seminoles have produced some NFL running backs lately with Cam Akers, Dalvin Cook, and Devonta Freeman. Mike Norvell has put backs into the league like Tony Pollard, and Darrell Henderson.
Trey Benson is the next man up it's just a matter if it’s the 2023 NFL draft or the 2024 NFL draft.