MOBILE, Ala. -- Informed that there are strong rumors circulating that his teammate, Carlton Martin, might soon be committing to Ole Miss, Bryon Bennett only laughed.
Informed that Bennett did nothing to shoot down those rumors, Martin insisted he plans to take a couple of official visits before committing anywhere.
Perhaps it's simply a matter of the two friends seeing who can outlast the other on the recruiting trail, but one thing is obvious: the two defensive linemen from Madison (Madison Central), Miss., are highly-coveted prospects who have done nothing but improve their stock this week as Saturday's Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic has inched closer.
"I have to keep competing," said Bennett, a 6-foot-2, 250-pound defensive lineman with the size to play tackle, the explosiveness to play end and the athleticism to do a little bit of everything. "There's a lot of players, a lot of talent. I'm just ready to play and rock and roll. I'm getting technique down. They've moved me to linebacker (in some packages this week), so it's a little new and a little old. I'll bring it together."
Bennett has seen his stock rise dramatically this season, picking up offers from schools such as Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech to go along with early offers from Ole Miss, Southern Mississippi and others.
"I've consistently worked," Bennett said. "We should've gone to the championship and won it, but I'm getting my technique down correctly, getting in position, lifting and running more, hustling to the ball, things like that."
Bennett said he plans to visit Texas Tech later this month and Ole Miss and Michigan in January. Alabama, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Syracuse and Miami, Bennett said, are also still in the mix.
"Everybody still has a good chance," Bennett said. "I'm trying to wind it down to seven or eight right now. I'm going to try to (take five visits). They say most people don't get a chance to take all five, but I'm going to try to get as many as I can and take it from there.
I definitely want to have fun. I've never flown before. I want to check out campuses, talk to players and see how it is.
"Most everyone projects me as an end. Two or three colleges, like Oklahoma, are recruiting me as a tackle, but it doesn't really matter to me. If I had to choose, I'd probably stay outside, but I'll do anything that gets me to the field faster."
Martin, a 6-2, 268-pound four-star defensive tackle, said he plans to visit Texas Tech, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Baylor, but he continues to list the Rebels as the leader in the race for his signature.
"It's somewhat of a lead," Martin said of Ole Miss. "I kind of like their coaches a lot and my sister goes there."
Several Ole Miss coaches stopped in Madison on Sunday before Martin and Bennett left for their week in Mobile.
"We sat, ate pizza, talked about playing time and the players that are leaving," Bennett said. "It was good. There were a lot of jokes. We had fun. They're fun guys. There's a lot of energy on the phone."
"They were trying to talk to my parents and let my parents get to know them better," Martin added. "I'm real comfortable. Their defense is real similar to the one we run at my high school. I'm real comfortable with Ole Miss."
Bennett, by the way, said Martin's decision might have some bearing on his. The two friends are also rivals, constantly striving to outshine the other. That's something that could continue on the college level, a development that would certainly be good news for a school fortunate enough to sign them both. Asked specifically if Martin's hypothetical commitment to Ole Miss would help the Rebels' cause, Bennett answered in the affirmative.
"I'd say that works for them," Bennett said. "He's pretty good, but I think if I went there I could start over him and laugh in his face, but it definitely helps to see them pulling in some good players. Carlton's pretty good. He's not better than me, but he's good.
"We're more friends. When we hit the field, it's more competition, but after that, it's pretty cool. We call and hang out a little bit. We're pretty close."
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