TAMPA — There is a new challenger for USF's starting quarterback job in the fall.
Steven Bench, formerly of Penn State, announced Thursday that he's transferring to USF, and he is immediately eligible to play.
"I feel like it's the best place for me to go. The way they treated me down there on my visit was unbelievable," said Bench, who also visited N.C. State and Mississippi State.
"You could tell 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."
Bench, who appeared in two games as a freshman last season, will have three years of eligibility at USF. Due to the NCAA sanctions at Penn State related to the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal, Bench does not have to sit out a season like most transfers. He will compete with Bobby Eveld (a senior in the fall) and Matt Floyd (sophomore) to replace B.J. Daniels.
"We're definitely excited that Steven decided to join the USF family," Bulls coach Willie Taggart said in a statement released by the school. "He is a coach's son who brings a lot of toughness to the game.
"His addition will also elevate the competition at quarterback, which will be good for all the players at the position. We're looking forward to his arrival on campus so he can start working out with the guys while getting acclimated to the way we do things."
Bench, 6 feet 2, 210 pounds, was a three-star recruit by rivals.com who hails from Bainbridge, Ga., just across the state border. He starts classes July 1 with the rest of the incoming recruiting class. He said he hopes to move to Tampa in the next week or two so he can get to know his future teammates and USF's offense.
The Bulls also pursued former Florida State quarterback Clint Trickett, who visited USF but transferred to West Virginia. Bench said he's aware of the opportunity he has to start but knows he will have to work to earn it.
"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," said Bench, who went 2-for-8 for 12 yards and ran three times for 18 yards for the Nittany Lions.
"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."
Greg Auman can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @GregAuman.