Before junior running back Benjamin LeMay ever played for the Butler football team, his last name generated great expectations.
LeMay’s older brothers – Christian, a Bulldog quarterback from 2007-10, and Uriah, a Butler wide receiver from 2009-12 – starred at Butler, both earning All-American and all-state honors. They also led the Bulldogs to state titles before going on to play in college: Christian is a redshirt junior at Jacksonville State and Uriah is a redshirt freshman at UNC Charlotte.
Where some players may have felt pressure, LeMay, who also goes by “Benny,” saw only opportunity.
“Both of my brothers were absolutely great players at Butler, and that has really helped me more than anything, because I know I have to grind hard every day to get better and to compete with what they have done,” said LeMay, youngest of four siblings. His sister, Jasmine, 19, is a senior at Butler.
“But at the end of the day, what I accomplish and my future on the football field depends on what I do and how hard I work. I have to go out and prove the type of player I can be on my own. I’ve always looked at that as a great opportunity,” LeMay said.
Butler football coach Brian Hales, in his fourth year as head coach after seven years as an assistant, has coached all three LeMay brothers.
“We’ve been lucky to have a lot of situations where we had the older brothers and then the younger brother or brothers, like Ray Frost and Kris Frost and Jacob Charest and Nate Charest, and many more,” said Hales, himself the youngest of five siblings. “I think we’ve always tried to help them realize it just gives them something to shoot for, because you always want to try to be better than you siblings. In Benny’s case, he had two brothers who not only got local and regional recognition but had got state and national notoriety. Benny had a great bar set for him from the start.”
In 2012, LeMay made varsity and was a rare freshman contributor on a Bulldog team that went 15-0 to win the 4AA state championship. LeMay rushed for 404 yards (second on the team) and eight touchdowns.
LeMay expanded his role last season, taking over at starting tailback as a sophomore and rushing for 1,038 yards and 18 touchdowns.
This season, LeMay has rushed for 1,490 yards and 23 touchdowns in 12 games going into the Nov. 21 second-round playoff game against Mallard Creek. He also has caught 16 passes for 256 yards and three touchdowns.
LeMay has eight 100-plus-yard rushing performances and two 200-plus-yard efforts, averaging 7.8 yards per carry, 16 yards per catch and 124 yards on the ground per game.
The 5-foot-10, 210-pound back does most of his work after contact, regularly running over or through would-be tacklers.
While LeMay credits his toughness to his older brothers, he said he got his unwillingness to be tackled easily from former Georgia Southern and Chicago Bears running back Adrian Peterson, a family friend.
“I got that whole mindset from Adrian,’ ” said LeMay, who can bench press 320 pounds and squat 540 pounds. “And he would always tell me ‘If you refuse to get tackled by one or two guys, you will keep your legs moving and keep fighting for every yard.’ I have that mindset on every play.”
Hales compares LeMay’s running style to Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch.
“Benny isn’t always going to be the guy who breaks off the 50-, 60-, 80-yard runs, but where he changes the game is how he finishes off each run,” said Hales, adding that LeMay runs a 4.5-second 40-yard dash. “His runs get everybody on the team fired up. He is such a steady player for us that he is a calming influence on the team. We always know we can count on Benny.”
LeMay and senior quarterback Anthony Ratliff-Williams (1,748 yards and 25 touchdowns passing, 1,139 yards and 15 scores rushing) are the key components of a Butler offense that averages 47 points per game.
While LeMay is a major part of the offense his ability to compliment senior quarterback, Anthony Ratliff-Williams (1,748 yards passing and 25 touchdown throws and 1,139 yard rushing and 15 scores this year) help make the Bulldog offense that averages 47 points per game even harder to stop. LeMay says he and North Carolina commit Ratliff-Williams (North Carolina commit), who have been playing together since sixth grade, are “like brothers.”
LeMay’s hard work is paying off on the recruiting trail. He has an official offer from UNCC and increasing interest from schools including Auburn, Boston College, Michigan State, North Carolina and Ohio State.
For now, LeMay said, his goal is to help the Bulldogs win games.
“I know a lot of college coaches are watching,” LeMay said. “But I just try to stay in the moment all of the time, because if you get ahead of yourself that is when you make mistakes. All I control is what I do and keep playing, keep producing and trying to help my team win games. I know everything else fall into place.”