April 30, 2012

Benford agrees to Free Agent status with Dallas Cowboys

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Tech wide receiver Tim Benford’s dazzling football career has taken on a new life. The Golden Eagle All-American and Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year has agreed to terms on a free agent deal with the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys.

Benford, a product of Red Bank High School in Chattanooga, received a phone call Saturday from Cowboys’ Owner and GM Jerry Jones. While messages on Twitter and Facebook speculated that Benford would join the Cowboys, the team didn’t confirm the deal until midday Monday.

“They offered me, and I was like, ‘Yeah.’ I’ve always wanted to be on America’s Team,” Benford said. “That’s who I was brought up watching in my household. It’s a dream come true. Now, I’ve just got to get better every day and keep working to try to get on the team.

“I’m totally stoked about it,” Benford added. “I’m ready. I couldn’t be any more excited about the situation I’m in right now. I’m very thankful for the opportunity, and I’ve been blessed.”

The Cowboys focused on defense during the recent draft, but were looking to the bolster their attack when they announced deals with 21 rookie free agents, 14 of whom play on offense.

Benford will join more than 40 players expected to participate in a minicamp this weekend. The rookies will report to the team’s Valley Ranch Thursday, with four practices scheduled for Friday and Saturday, two each day. The minicamp will include the team’s seven draft picks and 21 free agents, plus a few rookie tryouts. Some first-year veterans will also be eligible to practice.

“I think he picked the highest profile team there is, which is great,” said TTU coach Watson Brown. “They’re the team that showed a lot of interest in him during the week. I’m sure they got very close to drafting him and jumped at him when he was still left as a free agent.”

Benford was named the OVC Offensive Player of the Year after making 65 catches for 923 yards and five touchdowns, helping the Golden Eagles capture the league championship. For his career, Benford recorded 216 catches for 3,097 yards and 27 touchdowns, all school records.

The Golden Eagle star has a chance to become a second OVC free agent to make it with the Cowboys, following in the footsteps of starting quarterback Tony Romo, who played collegiately at Eastern Illinois.

“I told Tim, ‘Romo was a free agent from Eastern Illinois, right here in the league. Both of you were OVC MVPs and All-Americans. Go in there and let him throw to you,’” Brown said.


Here is the full list of Cowboy rookie free agents:

Jeff Adams              T                  Columbia
Levy Adcock            T                  Oklahoma State
Cole Beasley            WR               Southern Methodist
Tim Benford            WR               Tennessee Tech
George Bryan          TE                North Carolina State
Taylor Dever            T                  Notre Dame
Lance Dunbar           RB                North Texas
Harland Gunn           G                 Miami
Saalim Hakim           WR               Tarleton State
Adrian Hamilton        LB                Prairie View A&M
Charley Hughlett       LS                Central Florida
Donavon Kemp         WR               UTEP
Ronald Leary            G                 Memphis
Isaac Madison          CB                Arkansas
Tyrone Novikoff       T                  Idaho
Darrell Scott            RB                South Florida
Lionel Smith             CB                Texas A&M
Andrew Szczerba      TE                Penn State
Aston Whiteside        LB                Abilene Christian
Eddie Whitley           S                 Virginia Tech
Troy Woolfolk          CB                Michigan

Benford is one of seven OVC players to agree to free agent deals:

RB - Calvin Middleton (Jacksonville State) signed with St. Louis Rams
DB - A.J. Davis (Jacksonville State) signed with New Orleans Saints
DL - Monte Lewis (Jacksonville State) signed with Washington Redskins
DB - Dontrell Johnson (Murray State) signed with Jacksonville Jaguars
WR - Tim Benford (Tennessee Tech) signed with the Dallas Cowboys
DB - Jeremy Caldwell (Eastern Kentucky) signed with the St. Louis Rams
DT - Donte'e Nicholls (Tennessee State) with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers