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Notre Dame Football

Quick Thoughts on Butler Benton

April 17, 2023

Through the chaotic coaching carousel and then shifting to spring football and recruiting, Notre Dame adding someone to head up their personnel department wasn’t top of mind for most people. Marcus Freeman had been circling Arkansas General Manager Butler Benton as a candidate for a while and now it’s official with Benton being named as Assistant AD for Player Personnel for the Irish.

Originally from Detroit, Benton played at Cincinnati and worked at Michigan State from July 2017 to June 2020 under Mark Dantonio. He was at Georgia State for a brief time before moving on to his most recent role at Arkansas where he was directly involved with signing the 2022 and 2023 recruiting classes as well as adding 21 transfers in the last two years.

He was in charge of identification and evaluation of recruits at Arkansas and his classes are already starting to break through on the field with cornerback Quincey McAdoo, wide receiver Sam Mbake and wide receiver Isaiah Sategna from the 2022 class all in contention to start for the Razorbacks this fall. Tight end Luke Hasz, who just signed in this most recent class, enrolled early and he has made a big impression already this spring as he competes to start.

Arkansas brought in nine transfers before last season and many of them became key contributors, led by All-American linebacker Drew Sanders. Most of those players weren’t difficult evaluations. Sanders was a 5-star prospect before signing with Alabama. Jadon Haselwood was an elite recruit before he went to Oklahoma. Cornerback Dwight McGlothern was at LSU, safety Latavious Brini was at Georgia, and even Toledo transfer Matt Landers started out his career at Georgia.

What Benton helped facilitate this year in the portal with a dozen transfer additions is different. While there’s a number of players who previously were at Power 5 programs, Arkansas signed Isaac TeSlaa from Hillsdale College and Andrew Armstrong from Texas A&M-Commerce. They both had great production at a lower level, but that is no guarantee of what they would do at an SEC program. Both have been turning heads this spring with their play and clearly can compete at that level.

There is no doubt that a large part of what Benton’s role will be has to do with high school recruiting, but transfer portal identification, specifically for some smaller school prospects who may be able to make that jump up to contribute at Notre Dame, is something he should help with.

Benton has worked at Notre Dame before in player development. That’s important because he will already have an understanding of the type of individuals who are or aren’t a fit with the program.

He’s also someone who has ties in Detroit and worked with Sound Mind Sound Body founder Curtis Blackwell at Michigan State, who is as connected as anyone in that area. The Irish have signed some talent from Michigan in recent cycles (Josh Burnham, Nolan Ziegler, Rocco Spindler), but they haven’t had as much success there as they did when Keith Gilmore (also from Detroit) was on staff and signed Daelin Hayes, Khalid Kareem, and Ade Ogundeji.

Maybe most importantly, he has relationships with members of the coaching staff. He’s a former teammate of Mike Mickens at Cincinnati and was in the building with former Director of Player Personnel and now Assistant AD for Strategic Initiatives Dave Peloquin at Notre Dame. He’s not getting this job without those individuals vouching for him.

It’s going to be interesting to see how recruiting is going to take shape under Benton compared to what it was in previous years. We know how much of an impact Chad Bowden has had as Director of Recruiting since he was brought in by Marcus Freeman and we’ll see what kind of impact Benton has when it comes to evaluations and ultimately how that translates to the roster in the future.

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