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From the archives | Newberry's Benedict named to Little All-American first team

Growing up, Newberry's Heath Benedict hoped to make the All-America team and play in the NFL. He achieved the first half of his goal and could embark on the rest as soon as next month.

Benedict, a junior offensive lineman, was named to the AP's Little All-America first team after helping the Indians (11-2) to their first Division II South Atlantic Conference title and NCAA playoff berth.

Now Benedict, a 6-foot-6, 320 pound lineman who originally signed with Tennessee, is considering giving up his final season for the NFL. "My family and I are discussing my plans for next year," Benedict said by phone. The NFL "is definitely something to think about."

Benedict is waiting on the NFL's College Advisory Committee to evaluate his draft status. Newberry coach Zak Willis has told him that if he was projected as a third round pick or higher, Benedict should enter the draft.

The Little All-America team honors players not part of college football's largest divisions, I-A and I-AA. North Greenville sophomore defensive lineman Andre Bernardi was named to the second team.

Williams to leave Razorbacks; Nutt, Mustain reach accord.Quarterback Mitch Mustain, staying; tight end Ben Cleveland, staying; receiver Damian Williams, leaving.

Houston Nutt quickly summarized the status of three freshmen whose roles in Arkansas' offense have made them the focus of drama at the tail end of the Razorbacks' first winning season in three years.

The Arkansas coach said Wednesday he would let Williams transfer amid concerns voiced by several parents about the direction of the Razorbacks' offense.

Michigan's Long returning for senior season.First-team All-America offensive tackle Jake Long announced that he will return to Michigan for his senior season.

Santos wins I-AA's Payton Award.

New Hampshire quarterback Ricky Santos won the Walter Payton Award as the best player in NCAA Division I-AA.

The junior from Bellingham, Mass., threw for 2,681 yards and 23 touchdowns and ran for 385 yards and 12 touchdowns during the regular season.

He led New Hampshire (9-4, 5-3 Atlantic 10) to the playoffs for the third consecutive season, throwing for 318 yards and five touchdowns in a 41-38 win against Hampton.

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Winfield switches commitment to USC

Linebacker Alonzo Winfield (6-foot-1, 200 pounds) of Winston-Salem, N.C., said Thursday afternoon he has switched his commitment from Tennessee to USC.

"I did that yesterday," Winfield said. "I talked to coach Spurrier. He was down in Florida recruiting. He was real excited. I like the way South Carolina's linebackers play more than Tennessee's. I felt like I could play better at USC."

He said USC coaches have told him he will play the same position held by Cody Wells (outside linebacker). Winfield felt he was better suited for that position than the linebacker position Tennessee was holding for him.

Winfield said this commitment was firm and he probably will cancel his official visit to Tennessee that was set for Jan. 13.

-- Phil Kornblut

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