South Florida, Mississippi State in the mix for Penn State QB transfer Steven Bench

South Florida, Mississippi State in the mix for Penn State QB transfer Steven Bench

 

[dropcap]S[/dropcap]outh Florida may have come up short in the race for Clint Trickett, but the Bulls are very much in the mix for another transfer quarterback.

Steven Bench talks to Penn State QB coach Charlie Fisher during the spring game earlier this month.

Steven Bench talks to Penn State QB coach Charlie Fisher during the spring game earlier this month.

Steven Bench, who announced last week that he would transfer from Penn State, is considering South Florida, along with at least one SEC school.

Originally from Bainbridge, Ga., Bench would prefer to transfer to somewhere in the South, and a source tells us that, as of now, Mississippi State is South Florida’s main competition. But other SEC and ACC schools have expressed an interest and could get into the mix.

Reports surfaced Thursday that Bench would visit South Florida this weekend. While that visit won’t happen — at least not right now — he does plan to see the school soon.

Because of modified transfer rules in the wake of Penn State’s NCAA penalties, Bench is eligible to play at an FBS school immediately. He has three years of eligibility remaining.

Bench’s decision to transfer was seen as a somewhat surprising move.

As a true freshman, he moved quickly up the depth chart past Paul Jones to become Matt McGloin’s backup last fall. Bench saw action in two games as a true freshman last season, and, by all accounts, appeared to be in the mix to replace McGloin.

This spring, Bench battled junior college transfer Tyler Ferguson, and the two appeared to be neck and neck. Both posted similar numbers in the spring game, completing 9-of-15 passes, and Ferguson throwing two touchdowns and Bench one.

But with incoming freshman Christian Hackenberg soon to arrive on campus, Penn State coach Bill O’Brien informed Bench during their post-spring meeting that he would not get any more snaps with the No. 1 offense, and Bench decided to move on. (NCAA rules would have forced him to sit out a year if he transferred to an FBS school after the Fall of 2013.)

The Bainbridge, Ga. native saw action in two games last season, playing against Virginia and Purdue. He completed 2-of-8 passes for 12 yards and gained 18 yards on three  rush attempts.

A three-star prospect by Rivals.com, Bench (6-2, 205) originally committed to Rice. He played the first three years of his prep career in a run-first offense at Bainbridge High School, before transferring to neighboring Cairo High for his senior season.

At Cairo, Bench amassed nearly 2,000 yards through the air and on the ground and threw for 20 touchdowns, leading the Syrupmakers to the Georgia State class AAA semi-finals. He was rewarded with a last-minute scholarship offer from Penn State.

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