Gavin Wells

Senior Gavin Wells is the slot receiver for the Benton Panthers, and has a reputation for being a very hard worker and an extremely versatile asset for the team. Gavin says, “I’m not the biggest guy on the field, so I feel like I’m always proving myself. I know hard work will have to make up for the fact that I’m only 165 pounds!” Benton Coach Brad Harris echoes the statement with “there is a phrase that says ‘Dynamite comes in small packages’ and that fits Gavin Wells perfectly!”

Gavin’s love of football started young, in second grade. He says, “I think back then I was really fast and liked that it was a contact sport and hitting was allowed. I think I played linebacker in my first game that season and looking back on that I can’t help but laugh!” 

As he grew up, football remained a big part of his life. When asked about memorable moments on the field, Gavin shares, “One of the biggest highlights of my football career was my sophomore season when I was battling for the starting slot receiver; we were splitting time at the Salt Bowl game that year. I caught a throwback screen that gave us a lot of momentum. That was a big moment for me that gave me a lot of confidence moving forward.” 

Despite making big plays in clutch situations, Gavin remains incredibly humble about his on-field accolades. When asked what makes him unique on the field, he responds with, “I think I’m good at breaking tackles, I run good routes, and I am good in open space.”

When asked what makes Gavin different from other players on the field, Coach Harris says, “His toughness, competitiveness and versatility. He is a great playmaker with the ball in his hands and is just as good when he doesn’t have the ball. He is a complete wide receiver: running routes, catching balls and blocking. I think that goes back to him being a great competitor and the toughness he brings to the field every day.” 

Coach Harris continues, “This is not just in games, either. Gavin is a good practice player too. Sometimes you have guys that are really good on Friday nights but not as good during the week. Not Gavin. He practices hard every day. His versatility is key for us. We can play him at WR, RB, QB on offense; and we have and will again this year look at him playing defense in situational times during a game. He also returns punts and kick offs for us. Gavin is like a Swiss Army knife—we can utilize him several different ways!”

According to Coach Harris, off the field, Gavin is a team favorite. “He’s easy to get along with and tries to be the funny guy all the time. He is almost like the class clown in the locker room but all of our guys know he is one of the leaders, too.”

While Gavin may be a favorite starting player among his team and coaches, he says his pre-Salt Bowl focus is on his “brothers”—his Benton Panther teammates. Gavin says, “For me, football is a big brotherhood—my teammates are my brothers. It makes me love the sport that much more. I have two sisters, so the team has become my brothers.”

When asked about this year’s Salt Bowl on August 30, and how it feels to play his last one, Gavin lets out a long sigh, then shares, “I have a lot of mixed feelings. Last year’s Salt Bowl’s atmosphere was awesome, it felt so big. For this year, I will say it’s a huge honor to represent Benton and play in the Salt Bowl as a senior. It feels extra special since it’s my last one. I will be really sad to not play with my team after this year, but we are so fired up and excited for this year’s bowl game. We will bring our best and make Benton proud.”

But this season will not be the end to Gavin’s football career. While he won’t be a Benton Panther after this season, he does have opportunities to play in college. “I plan on playing football at Ouachita Baptist University or Arkansas Tech University; I have offers to play at both schools. I’m not sure quite yet where I will go, but I am excited to get my degree and then get to work.” While he is unsure of his major, he does know he sees a future for himself in the construction industry. “I’ve spent my summers working for my dad’s construction business and hope to use my college degree and work in that field. I’m excited for college and the opportunity to play more football.” 

Gavin Wells is just one more reason why Saline County can be proud of their Benton Panthers, and the student athletes that make the Salt Bowl the special occasion that it is. Regardless of size, it’s the hard work and dedication of players like Gavin that is on display and deserves to be celebrated.