Clemson's crazy man

Spencer Benton

CLEMSON - Spencer Benton hasn't set out on a vendetta to change the wimpy reputation of kickers one tackle at a time.

Not even halfway through his college career and he already owns the school record for tackles by a kicker (14).

Last year, the redshirt sophomore broke the single-season record with nine.

"I like hitting people," Benton said. "It's fun. I'm sure my time's coming where I'm going to get my clock cleaned. Until then, I'm going to keep on trying. I'm going to go down swinging."

After a kick, he'll size up what's played out on the return before heading in for the kill—just as long as his responsibilities as the safety aren't compromised. He's already had two "clean" shots this season—one against Auburn and another against Maryland.

Benton knows very well that each stab at a tackle runs the risk of his "dripping wet" 195-pound frame getting blown up by a blocker.

"I'm keeping my head on a swivel, I haven't gotten laid out yet—knock on wood," he said.

The mentality comes from his uncle, Charles Singleton, a former Myrtle Beach-area high school standout.

"My uncle told me back when I started playing high school ball whenever he got inside the lines he let it loose and took all his anger out on the field," Benton said. "Not saying that I have a bunch of anger built up, or anything.


"I just like to get out there and lay some wood, if I can— try not to be that average kicker." (Roy Philpott)
"I just like to get out there and lay some wood, if I can— try not to be that average kicker."

He wasn't just a kicker back then.

Benton played wide receiver, defensive back and punted. As a senior, he had 410 receiving yards and four touchdowns.

Benton's opportunities for big hits on kickoffs were few and far between in high school. The kick from the 40 combined with no returns out of the end zone make touchbacks a lot more common.

Of the 87 kickoffs from his freshman year at Clemson, he had seven touchbacks and 12 others reached the goal line.

His 41 kickoffs in 2010 have resulted in two touchbacks and 10 to the goal line.

"If I got the touchbacks, I wouldn't have to make the tackles," Benton said. "It's a cool record, but the 20-yardline is a lot better than the 35 or 30. It's coming. I'm changing a few things on my kickoffs, and just trying to be more relaxed on the field.

"It's easy to get out there in front of 85,000 and get all in the moment. You've got to relax and take a deep breath. I think I'm getting better at that. Overall, I think I'm starting to kick a little better."

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