Contributed Phil Campbell graduate Jordan Benford (left) shakes hands with new Alabama A&M head baseball coach Michael Tompkins (right). Benford was signed by the Bulldogs after attending Northwest-Shoals Community College for a year.

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PCHS grad signs with Bulldogs

Published 6:00am Saturday, August 18, 2012

HUNTSVILLE —Second chances are something that many people dream of but few actually get.

There seems to be something in the life of everyone that he or she would like to go back and change.

For Jordan Benford, a member of the Phil Campbell High School graduating class of 2011, that second chance became a reality.

Benford was a multi-sport athlete for the Bobcats, but baseball was his passion.

He had been playing the game since he started tee-ball at the age of five.

He was a member of the varsity team starting in seventh grade, so for the last six years of his time in grade school he got to play the sport he loved.

He was a utility player, but pitching was his favorite position.

“My curveball is my favorite pitch,” Benford said. “I like the surprise of it. Throw a fastball in the outside corner then throw that, and it usually makes them look pretty silly.”

All it took was one bad decision to end Benford’s dream of playing baseball in college.

“I had some scouts come and look at me, but I didn’t make the best decision,” he said.

“I pretty much skipped some of my summer games, so they didn’t get to see me play. Luckily one of my coaches, Griffin Harris, got ahold of a coach at Motlow State Community College (in Tennessee), and he talked to him.

“We kind of lost contact, and I didn’t get any offers right out of high school. I wasn’t playing ball and I had to get an education, so Northwest-Shoals was kind of the cheapest place and it is close to home, so that’s where I went.”

At least, for the time being. “I missed two games in the summer that there were scouts at, so I kind of cancelled my ticket to college there,” Benford said.

“After I got in at Northwest I started missing baseball, and I got ahold of Coach Harris and told him I wanted to play ball, and if he could get ahold of anybody. He called around and a coach from Motlow remembered my name, and somehow my name got brought up by somebody else at Alabama A&M.

“They called around and asked if I was any count, and the response they got was that I was pretty solid and he’s got a decent stick.

“They aren’t really at full capacity, so when they saw me they just offered me a scholarship.”

Just like that, after a year of sitting on the outside looking in, Benford had a second chance; a chance to play his favorite sport at the collegiate level.

“It feels awesome,” he said. “When you’re a kid your coach in high school tells you to make the best of it, because whenever you’re done that’s it.

“That part of your life is gone. I was enjoying baseball, but then I lost it. Then I was lucky enough to have it granted back to me. I’m fully charged and ready to get back at it; I’m really excited about it.

“It’s going to be fun, and I’m going to make the best of my opportunity.”

When he is not on the field, Benford is taking classes to pursue a major in Exercise Science, which is something he decided early on in his high school career.

A knee injury sidelined him, and it was the care he received that led him to follow that path.

“In ninth grade I tore my ACL, and the help that everyone gave me made me want to do that,” he said.

“Without them I wouldn’t have been able to recover 100 percent and get back on my feet. I’m probably a better athlete now than before I hurt it.

“I know how it feels to be on the receiving end of an injury, so it must feel awesome to help someone get back on their feet and go on.

“[After Alabama A&M] I plan on going to either South Alabama or UAB and enrolling in the physical therapy program.”

While we normally see people only get the second chance they so desperately wanted, Benford is living proof that such things can and do happen in real life.

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