DeLand offensive tackle Benjamin Knox can scratch another goal off of his list.
The Florida commit was selected to the Semper Fidelis All-American Game on Wednesday. The game, which is in its third year, will be nationally televised on NFL Network in January and is presented by the United States Marine Corps.
“I’ve always wanted to be an All-American,” Knox said. “Some of my first goals were committing to a school and being invited to an Under Armour football camp. Now I have another thing accomplished and I’m very happy about it.”
So is new DeLand coach James Thomson, who spent the past two seasons at Gainesville High and led the school to its first state championship game in 32 years. He left the Hurricans in Febuary to take over the Bulldogs’ football program.
“I had great players in Gainesville and throughout my coaching career, but Ben is my first All-American,” Thomson said. “So that’s special for me and it’s great for the DeLand community. He’s the first All-American here since Trey Pettis and De’Ante Saunders.”
Thomson has only coached Knox for two weeks, but he’s been impressed with his progress in spring practice.
“He’s shown a ton of improvement,” Thomson said. “He’s gotten tougher and you can see it. That’s a big statement for an offensive lineman. I can’t think of a better compliment. He’s going to be good and I think Florida will be pleased with him at the end of the year. He just needs to have a good senior season and a good showing in that game to represent the city.”
Knox’s verbal to Florida sounded shaky last month when he told The Sun he was 55 percent committed to the Gators and could decommit if they land another offensive tackle. He also expressed interest in schools such as South Florida and Florida State, both of which haven’t offered him.
Since then, Thomson has advised the 6-foot-5, 259-pounder on his recruitment and believes he will be more cautious about his UF commitment.
“I got here and literally two days later he committed to Florida,” Thomson said. “So we didn’t really have a relationship. Now we’re a few weeks into the spring and we see each other everyday. So I think I’ll have more influence on him as far as how to handle his recruiting process and conduct himself. I think he’ll be better about everything going forward. Some colleges tell these kids they love them and they really don’t. But it’s a lot to take in. He just needs somebody to guide him. His parents do and hopefully I will, too.”