National Signing Day: Benjamin's CJ Bowens sees big potential with Army

Eric J. Wallace
Palm Beach Post
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PALM BEACH GARDENS — Benjamin veteran CJ Bowens has earned the opportunity to don the Army black and gold in Division I college football. 

Bowens signed with the Black Knights on Wednesday afternoon in a ceremony at the Benjamin Upper School gymnasium. He was one of four Bucs to sign Division I scholarships on National Signing Day.

Listed at 6-foot-4, 210 pounds, Bowens was lightly recruited and had no collegiate offers entering the year despite a productive senior campaign with 54 total tackles, 8.0 tackles for loss and 9.0 sacks. 

From back, left: Jareth Buccilli, Dalton Lyons, Sophia Smith, Danny Gonzalez, CJ Bowens, (front, left) Kiley Malmberg, Jack Regnery and Mason Thomason of Benjamin School celebrate National Signing Day on Feb. 2, 2022 in Palm Beach Gardens.

Bowens finished with four offers, including Navy, Charleston Southern and St. Thomas (Minn.), before falling in love with his opportunity at West Point.  

"I've been working for a long time and extremely hard for this," Bowens said. "Last summer, I was working out three times a day so for me to have this opportunity with Army really means a lot." 

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CJ Bowens, Benjamin.

Bowens said the coaching staff sees tantalizing potential available for him in the Black Knights' defensive scheme. 

Army pass rusher Andre Carter II finished with 14.5 sacks in 2021, second in the nation only to Alabama star Will Anderson. Carter was named an AP All-American for his efforts. 

Listed at 6-foot-7, 250 pounds, Carter is a taller pass rusher and similar to Bowens, who  currently measures 6-4, 215 pounds. It's a lofty standard, but one Bowens said he was eager to pursue. 

"A few weeks ago, I got an email from [Army assistant] (Daryl) Dickson and he was basically saying how he was interested in my film," Bowens said of his recruitment. "We struck up a relationship and I went up for a visit just a few weeks after and I fell in love with the place." 

The Black Knights finished 9-4 in 2021 and defeated SEC opponent Missouri 24-22 in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl. 

Danny Gonzalez ready for 'big-time college football'

Benjamin interior defensive lineman Danny Gonzalez is cashing in a monster senior prep season for a ticket to Division I college football.

Gonzalez signed to join South Florida on Wednesday, accepting late interest from the Bulls that put a shock into the closing days of recruitment. 

Danny Gonzalez, Benjamin.

"It threw me around because I was leaning toward another school, but this fit what I needed more," Gonzalez said. "It's big-time college football. And I want to play with the best and show that I can do it." 

Gonzalez was the "heart and soul" of a Bucs defense which reached a regional final in 2021. He finished with 68 total tackles, 16.0 tackles for loss and 7.0 sacks. 

Dalton Lyons gets love from HBCU

Benjamin offensive lineman Dalton Lyons is set to play under former Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson at the collegiate level. 

Lyons signed with Grambling State on Wednesday and said he was taken aback by online recruiting from the Tiger faithful. 

"I've never been hit up on social media the way I was [by Grambling State]," Lyons said. "The love and support the G-Fam sent to me was a huge part in my recruitment process." 

Dalton Lyons, Benjamin.

Listed at 6-foot-5, 300 pounds, Lyons plays on the interior offensive line and featured at center and guard for Benjamin this season.

Lyons said he's embracing the energy surrounding HBCU football in early 2022 as well as the potential opportunities of new NIL rules. 

"I feel that God has directed me in the right path," Lyons said. "I used to feel like there are coaches at the FBS level that passed me up through the years.

"When I look at it now, I've lost the greediness. I'm just putting my best foot forward and going where God takes me." 

Eric J. Wallace can be reached at or 850-525-5087. 

National Signing Day at Benjamin School 

CJ Bowens, Football, Army 

Danny Gonzalez, Football, South Florida 

Danny Lyons, Football, Grambling State 

Mason Thomason, Football, Stetson 

Kiley Malmberg, Golf, Emory University 

Jack Regnery, Lacrosse, Tuft's University 

Sophia Smith, Crew, Brown 

Jareth Buccilli, Lacrosse, North Greenville

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