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Former WVU Football DL Commit Available Again After Houston Exit

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Former WVU Football commit Justin Benton with Houston
Image credit to Houston Athletics

Last year around this same time the WVU football coaches had a top commit stolen away at the last second. Fast forward to this year and that former recruit is now available once again.

Justin Benton, who was committed to WVU up until National Signing Day in Dec. 2022, flipped and ended up signing with Houston. But on Friday, Benton announced that he is transferring from Houston on the heels of former WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen being fired by the Cougars soon after the end of the 2023 regular season.

The Georgia native initially picked the Mountaineers over a top eight that included Duke, Houston, Mississippi State, Nebraska, Penn State, Tennessee and Georgia, his home state program and where most recruiting experts predicted he would end up.

It’s not surprising players, especially those with a full four years of eligibility preserved like Benton, would jump ship on the heels of a coach being fired. No one knows exactly what went down to cause Benton to change his mind and pick Holgorsen over Neal Brown last year, but the man he flipped on West Virginia for is no longer the leader of the Cougars.

Benton record four total tackles and one for a loss in four games played for Houston in 2023. Ironically, one of those appearances did not include Houston’s upset win over the Mountaineers thanks to a Hail Mary pass in the final seconds.

Will Brown and his staff be interested in reaching back out to Benton now that is available once again? The defensive line, while relatively young, could sill use more depth and Benton does have tons of talent that could develop over time.

For context, Brown did recently say that he would not close the door on re-acquiring former Mountaineers if the opportunity presents itself. He said it’s a case by case basis and depends on the manner in which the player left the program. That’s brought up here, even though it’s not exactly the same situation, since it’s possible the WVU staff was turned off by the National Signing Day flip and may not look at Benton as a player they are interested in working with anymore.

Would Neal Brown Ever Welcome Back Former Mountaineers Available in Portal?

Only time will tell, but Benton’s newfound availability is certainly interesting and noteworthy.

Click here for the rest of WV Sports Now’s coverage of WVU football recruiting.

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