MIDLAND, Tx (KOSA) -- For multiple generations of people, Cedric Benson is a Texas high school football icon. As a running back at Midland’s Lee High School, he launched the Rebels to state and national acclaim.
“Everybody knew we were going to him, and nobody knew how to stop him,” longtime friend and teammate Fred Thrweatt said. “He was the guy. For us on defense, we’re trying to get a breather, and next thing you know he busts a 70-yarder, and here we are like ‘Dang we got to go back on the field’.”
Benson ran for over 8000 yards during his career at Lee High School, serving as the workhorse for Rebels teams that won state championships in 1998, 1999 and 2000.
“People from time to time say I bet that was hard coaching him,” Benson’s high school coach John Parchman said. “It wasn’t hard coaching him. He did everything I asked him to do. He was a good guy. A real good guy.”
For Parchman, one of his favorite memories comes from a tight game when Benson was the only option working for the Rebels offense.
“He said ‘Coach I need some help, I can’t do this all by myself’,” Parchman said. “I said ‘Well hell the great ones can’. He looked at me and said ‘I’ll carry it every play’.”
Benson went on to star at the University of Texas, winning the Doak Walker Award as the best running back in the country.
He was the fourth overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, and played professionally for eight seasons.
As his career progressed, Benson always stayed close with his coach.
“We remained friends, confidants,” Parchman said. “It hurts maybe more because of that relationship.”
Benson’s passing also hits hard for his former teammates.
“Disbelief,” Thrweatt said. “Someone that’s so close to you, same age, Class of 2001. It’s just shocking that someone that close to you just passes away like that.”
In recent years, Benson had set his mind on giving back to the Midland community, hosting football camps and creating resources for education.
“Regardless of how you feel about him, we still were proud of him,” Thrweatt said. “Here’s a person that came from where I came from, doing better and bigger things, and he wanted to come back and show people that we’ve done this.”
In the three state championship games that Lee won, Benson scored an incredible 15 total touchdowns.
They say that the best players shine brightest in the biggest games, and Cedric Benson certainly did that.