Another transfer QB to watch: Steven Bench
Even before former Florida State quarterback Clint Trickett had chosen West Virginia over USF this week, another potential quarterback transfer had his eye on the Bulls: Penn State freshman Steven Bench.
Bench, like Trickett, is a rare transfer eligible to play immediately -- wherein Trickett could as a graduate transfer, Bench has an exemption from the normal sitting-out-a-season due to the Jerry Sandusky scandal last year. Bench played sparingly as a true freshman at Penn State last fall, throwing for 12 yards on eight pass attempts and rushing for another 18, but looked to be behind junior college transfer Tyler Ferguson for the starting QB job in State College.
He's listed at 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds, and came to Penn State from Cairo, Ga., just north of the Florida border (it's pronounced KAY-ro and has an outstanding mascot, the Syrupmakers). He played well in Penn State's spring game last month -- 9-for-15 for a game-high 99 yards and a 27-yard touchdown.
Bench hasn't said much publicly during his selection process, but confirmed to the Times on Thursday night that while he isn't visiting USF this weekend, he hopes to do so soon. Mississippi State has also been reported as an option -- he recently started following Bulldogs assistant Geoff Collins on Twitter, and was recruiting by Mississippi State out of high school as well.
Bench was a three-star recruit by Rivals and 247 (though only two by Scout), committing to Rice in December of his senior year, only to pick up an offer from Penn State (after the Sandusky troubles, with Bill O'Brien already in place as coach) in January and sign with the Nittany Lions.
To get a sense for Bench, check out a few Youtube highlight videos. First is an 11-minute cutup of his senior year -- lots of intermediate passing, but there's an impressive run at 1:10, a nice pass at 1:50, two nice deeper throws at 5:45.
And nearly all of his snaps at Penn State came in a loss to Virginia -- in this clip, he doesn't look bad as an injury fill-in just before halftime, converting a third down on a quick slant at 3:00, then looks shifty in scrambling to convert a third-and-10. There's a nice throw to the end zone his receiver likely should have come down with, but this clip is essentially the extent of his college experience.
USF, of course, has senior Bobby Eveld and sophomore Matt Floyd competing for the starting job, with true freshman Mike White arriving this fall as another challenger. Bench actually has less college experience than either Eveld or Floyd, so USF's coaches will have to decide if he brings enough as a recruit with three years of eligibility to sign him as a late addition to the 2013 class. He's the son of a longtime Georgia high school coach, so that might give him a connection with USF QBs coach Nick Sheridan and offensive coordinator Walt Wells, both sons of longtime coaches.