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The Warrior Wire

For All Things North, Read the Wire

The Warrior Wire

For All Things North, Read the Wire

The Warrior Wire

From Friday Night Lights to Crimson Heights: Xaden Benson is Harvard Bound

Tackling Success: Star Football Player Xaden Benson Commits to Harvard University

Fusing his dedication to sports and academics, senior Xaden Benson recently committed to Harvard University, where he’s primed to make his mark on the football field next fall. A powerhouse on both defense and offense, Benson’s prowess as a safety, receiver, and punt returner has been the heartbeat of North Atlanta’s football team for the past three years. While his senior season may have drawn to a close, the legacy he leaves behind at North Atlanta sets the stage for an exhilarating chapter on the crimson fields of Harvard. 

Benson’s gridiron journey kicked off with flag football in middle school, patiently waiting until eighth grade to play tackle football. Despite an early setback with an injury, he stayed dedicated, taking on the role of the team’s waterboy. The COVID-19 pandemic put a damper on his high school start in ninth grade, but Benson made his official debut on the tackle football field in 10th grade, starting strong with a game-winning interception. While baseball took the lead in his heart, a junior-year revelation of his football prowess fueled a fire for collegiate play at a highly academic school. “I’ve always taken education seriously and my parents instilled in me that it was the number one priority,” said Benson, “One piece of advice I would give to student-athletes is that the student is before the athlete for a reason.”

In three action-packed years with North Atlanta football, Benson’s time was a highlight reel of triumphs. Starting every game except two due to injury, he reveled in playoff glory and made history in the second round. The electric atmosphere of the Dubs’ student section fueled his on-field performance, landing him accolades from 2nd Team All-Region in sophomore year to 1st Team for both offense and defense in junior year. Senior year brought captaincy, honorable mention all-state, and two-time Gatorade Defensive Player of the Game. Balancing academics, football, and a social life initially flowed smoothly, but the real challenge was the clash between baseball and football. “Football wasn’t my main focus until senior year,” said Benson, “I am lucky to have parents, coaches, and friends that believed and supported me and my dreams which really gave me the confidence I needed to succeed.” 

Benson’s recruitment journey unfolded with a late start, focusing on baseball before the football offers began to roll in during his senior year. Securing his first offer from Hampton University, Benson later garnered interest from schools like Georgia Institute of Technology, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, and Wofford College. As the season progressed, anxiety crept in about finding the right fit. However, a text from the Harvard coach sparked newfound hope. Skepticism turned to excitement after a campus visit where he found a welcoming atmosphere, friendly faces, and a “top-3 all-time” slice of pizza from Joe’s Pizza. Despite interest from Columbia University, Benson felt a stronger connection with Harvard, ultimately choosing the Ivy League for its alignment with his personal and academic goals. “Harvard felt like the place where I could grow the most and create the best future for me, and it just clicked,” said Benson. 

As Benson heads up north, his enthusiasm spans beyond football. Excited to study data science, he aims to leverage analytics for impactful decision-making. Looking forward to a new environment in Massachusetts, Benson is eager to both play his sport and forge lasting connections. Despite his sadness over his last game under the lights at Henderson Stadium, Benson is excited for the future that awaits him at Harvard and beyond. 

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    AveryFeb 5, 2024 at 8:03 pm

    So proud of Mr. Benson. Can’t wait to watch him in Crimson!