ESPN college football analyst Tom Luginbill wonders if quarterbacks like South Carolina’s Jake Bentley are a dying breed in college football. If so, he’s going to hate to see them go.
“I think Jake Bentley at some point may end up being a first round NFL draft choice. I think he’s that good, but right now I don’t want to call him an endangered species but in college football those guys are becoming that,” Luginbill told The State.
“Those guys” Luginbill is referring to are the prototypical pro-style quarterbacks who do most of their damage from the pocket with their arms rather than in the open field with their legs. Bentley, the Gamecocks 6-foot-4 sophomore, is one of the few prime examples of the species left in college football.
“Unless you are at Michigan or Stanford or you’re Jake Bentley, there aren’t many of those guys around,” Luginbill said. “I think what they are doing is crafting the team around him which means getting really good skill players so they can get explosive plays and then they are going to utilize what he brings to the table in the passing game.”
Last year, Bentley started seven games, completing 66 percent of his passes and throwing for 1,420 yards, nine touchdowns and four interceptions.
“I think he is one of those kids that truly loves studying the game,” Luginbill said. “He loves the game. He’s one of those guys that devotes himself to his craft and is willing to work for it. This is a kid who took a team you could argue was a 4-8 roster and got them bowl eligible. That gives you and idea of how good he is.”
All that being said, Luginbill still thinks most major college football teams are looking for a different type of quarterback in today’s game.
“I’m becoming more and more convinced that if you don’t have an athletic player at quarterback you are only going to go so far,” Luginbill said. “You look at the teams that have won the national championship the last four or five years, outside of Alabama who had been so superior to everybody else, the teams that are playing for conference championships or vying for a spot in the College Football Playoff are great on defense and have a dynamic player under center.”
While Bentley may be athletic enough to carry the ball when asked, he would not be described as a “dynamic” runner. After sack totals were subtracted from his rushing total last year, he finished with minus-9 yards.
“I think we are here to stay in that mold (of a running quarterback) for a while because it puts such strain on the defense,” Luginbill said. “What’s going to end up happening is teams are going to be saying, ‘This guy may not be an ideal passer but maybe he’s just serviceable enough.’ I think more teams are going to be more comfortable going with that mindset.”