SAN DIEGO – Growing up in South Florida, new San Diego Chargers receiver Travis Benjamin looked to hometown products Anquan Boldin, Santonio Holmes, Andre Johnson and Santana Moss as mentors during his time in high school and at the University of Miami.
Benjamin said he stills works out with Boldin, Moss and Johnson in Miami during the offseason.
But the receiver Benjamin believes most resembles his game hails from the West Coast -- Los Angeles native DeSean Jackson.
“I compare myself to DeSean Jackson,” Benjamin said. “Being able to stretch the field, catching the hitch and catching the slant --- his big-play ability to make 25-, 35- or 45-yard plays -- he’s a person I like to analyze because of his game.
“When I first got to Miami he was just coming out, and the guy was just amazing.”
Both are similar in stature. Benjamin is listed at 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds, while Jackson is 5-10 and 178 pounds.
And with suddenness and long speed, Benjamin and Jackson both have the ability to make defenses pay as a vertical threat on offense and in the return game.
Jackson has averaged 17.7 yards per catch and has 46 career touchdowns in eight NFL seasons, including four as a punt returner.
Benjamin averages 15.4 yards per catch and has 13 touchdowns in four NFL seasons, including three as a punt returner.
Both bring explosive, play-making skills and an ability to score from anywhere on the field.
Benjamin’s ability to score touchdowns was an attraction for a San Diego offense that averaged just 16 points a contest from Week 9 on in 2015, tied for fifth-worst in the NFL. Benjamin finished with four touchdown receptions on passes thrown 30-plus yards downfield last season, tied with Brandin Cooks for most in the NFL. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers had three touchdown passes of 30-plus yards last season.
Benjamin said the Chargers were high on his priority list heading into free agency.
“I had a couple teams [involved], but San Diego was always my No. 1 because of the Hall of Fame quarterback they had in Philip Rivers,” Benjamin said. “Coming from Cleveland, I didn’t really have a quarterback throughout all my years there. I just wanted to get with a quarterback and put on the best show I can.”
So was it tough leaving Cleveland, the franchise that drafted you?
“Not at all,” Benjamin said, with a laugh. “Sunny San Diego vs. cold Cleveland -- it wasn’t a bad choice at all. I knew that.”
Benjamin trains with Flowers in Boca Raton, Florida, during the offseason. Benjamin said he’s not worried about fitting into a crowded San Diego offense that includes Keenan Allen, Antonio Gates, Danny Woodhead, Melvin Gordon and Stevie Johnson.
“Cleveland showed me all about patience,” Benjamin said. “There’s only one ball on the field. And if you don’t get the ball on one play, look toward the next play to get the ball. I never complain about the ball and never want to force the ball on me. If the plays come my way, I just take advantage of the opportunity.”