Q&A with new USF QB Steven Bench
Busy day in Clearwater leading up to tonight's 8 p.m. (or so) Big East baseball tournament game between USF and UConn, but on the drive in we had the chance to speak with USF's newest QB -- Penn State transfer Steven Bench, who announced Thursday morning that he had chosen the Bulls over N.C. State and Mississippi State.
Due to the NCAA sanctions at Penn State, Bench can transfer and play immediately without sitting out a year -- he'll have three years of eligibility with the Bulls and will compete with Bobby Eveld and Matt Floyd for the starting job this fall. Here's what the 6-foot-2, 210-pound passer had to say on a variety of topics:
Q: First, with your decision today, what won things over for USF?
A: I feel like it's the best place for me to go. What won me over? Two things stood out, really. One was the way they treated me down there, not that anyone else treated me badly. The way they treated me on my visit was unbelievable. They went out of their way to make me feel wanted. They needed a quarterback, but they made me feel like they needed me to be their quarterback, and that goes a long way. The other thing was the buzz that was down there, the excitement you could feel when you're talking to coaches and players. There's a buzz down there, and it's an exciting thing.
Q: When you went to Starkville this week, did you have it in your mind that USF was the school to beat?
A: I tried not to think about other schools, tried to enjoy my visit there, and after, I was comparing and contrasting. One these visits, you want to keep an open mind, no matter what, to not really think about how they need to do this to beat out them, blah blah blah. You try to have an open mind, see how comfortable I am, gauge the coaching, playing time, a lot of things.
Q: A big part of how well you'll be able to compete for the QB job at USF will be how well you can learn this offense in the next three months. You got on the field as a true freshman at Penn State and held your own. How are you at being able to pick things up quickly?
A: At Penn State, we ran the New England Patriots offense with Coach (Bill) O'Brien, so I've had a year now of learning an NFL offense. That's not an easy thing to do. It was a lot of study time and hard work that goes into that. I feel like I had gotten it down pretty good, especially this spring. It all comes down to the work you put in when nobody's watching. I feel comfortable with my ability to pick up the offense Coach Taggart wants to put in, which is basically the 49ers offense. When I went down there, they do a lot of similar stuff that we did at Penn State, they just call it something different. I don't start classes until July 1, so I have a month here for working out and getting my face in the playbook and I don't even have to worry about class. I can start working out and throwing with the players, do everything but go to class until July 1. I'll pay my own way until I'm on scholarship in July.
Q: It seems your future teammates are already embracing you -- saw receiver Andre Davis tweeting how excited he is. I'm sure that helps to see how eager they are to get you on board.
A: Honestly, they were a big part of the recruiting process from USF's side. I can't tell you how many players have texted me, asking me how I'm doing, gauging where I'm at in the process, staying on me about being a USF Bull. That means a lot when they care like that, when they're asking each other for my phone number so they can text me. You need to get along with those guys you're going to be around.
Q: How did USF's coaches convey to you their urgency to get another quarterback in to compete for the starting job this fall?
A: The way they got it across was offering me a scholarship, honestly. They clearly wanted me, the way they treated me on the visit spoke volumes as to their wanting a quarterback, in having another guy to come in and compete and have a chance to start. Nobody's going to give me the job, and if I don't earn it, I'm not going to start. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to start, and what I do with that opportunity is up to me. I feel like I have the best opportunity down there.
Q: One of your high school teammates was already saying how excited you are to see USF playing FSU in 2015.
A: Both of my parents went to Florida State. My grandma went to Florida State. Before my freshman year of college, I went to every Florida State home game for six years straight, and a couple of bowl games. I grew up a diehard Seminoles fan, and I'm 30 minutes north of Tallahassee. Playing them is a lot bigger deal than people think. When I play them, it's personal.