Jake Bentley committing to South Carolina gives the Gamecocks one of the top quarterbacks in the country for the 2017 class, as well as a prospect the class can be built around moving forward.
The junior is rated as a four-star prospect by Rivals, ESPN and 247Sports, and is considered by ESPN the No. 2 quarterback in the country.
Bentley threw for 2,834 yards and 28 touchdowns with eight interceptions in 13 games this past year at Opelika High in Opelika, Ala., and he has the chance to be a program-changer for South Carolina.
“I think he’s a really good fit for what South Carolina’s trying to do offensively,” Rivals Southeast analyst Woody Wommack said. “We like him up there with the nation’s top crop of quarterbacks. I think he has a chance to settle in up there. There’s a group of five or so quarterbacks in the Southeast, and he was right there jockeying for that top spot.”
At 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, Bentley has the ideal size for a quarterback. He also has the arm strength to make all of the throws and is more athletic than he is given credit for, according to his high school coach, Brian Blackmon.
“From a talent standpoint I think he meets all of the wish-list items any coach would want,” Opelika’s coach said. “He’s got a strong arm. He’s got a great football IQ. He’s got a skill set as a quarterback that any coach would want.”
104 Jake Bentley’s 247Sports Composite national player ranking in the 2017 class. The figure factors in all networks.
Blackmon added that Bentley also brings a lot to the table as far as leadership, both on and off the field.
“The intangibles are what separate him,” Blackmon said. “He’s a great leader, and he’s a kid that really has the desire to be the best in everything that he does. He’s a great student in the classroom and just very driven.”
Also working in Bentley’s favor is the fact that he grew up in a football family. His dad, Bobby Bentley, had one of the most successful high school runs in South Carolina history at Byrnes before leaving to become an offensive analyst at Auburn in 2014. He is currently in his first year coaching running backs at South Carolina.
Bentley also has two older brothers who are FBS quarterbacks. Chas Dodd appeared in 31 games during his career at Rutgers, and Shuler Bentley started eight games last season as a redshirt freshman at Old Dominion.
“He’s had that additional kind of intangibles of growing up around the game and things like that,” Wommack said. “I think that’s why so many schools kind of became enamored with him when they got him on campus and really talked to him because he has a high football IQ.”
The culture around South Carolina is great, and any recruit that comes on campus will feel that.
Now that Bentley has committed to South Carolina over Alabama, LSU, Stanford and others, his next step is getting other prospects to join him in Columbia.
He has already started working with Chapin tight end Will Register, a USC commit, to find other prospects to target.
“I’m going to try hard to recruit guys to come,” Bentley said. “We want to build a championship team here and that all starts with recruiting.
Wommack believes Bentley will be successful in helping the Gamecocks put together a strong class.
Bentley played his freshman season at Byrnes before playing the past two seasons at Opelika in Alabama. He is unsure where he will play football his senior year, but he has already built strong connections in two different states.
“He has a good personality, and he connects with prospects,” Wommack said. “Because he’s lived in two different places he knows a lot of guys. He’s traveled around a lot, too, so it’s going to be on him to reach out to guys on social media and kind of be the face of the class. With him getting in the fold in March, that gives him 10 or 11 months to kind of be the guy out there recruiting and trying to find other top players to play alongside him.”
Bentley is up for the challenge.
“I have a good relationship with a lot of the top prospects from going to a lot of camps with them,” he said. “I think we can have the best recruiting class in the nation. The culture around South Carolina is great, and any recruit that comes on campus will feel that.”
USC 2017 CLASS COMMITMENTS
▪ Jake Bentley, QB, Opelika, Ala.
▪ Summie Carlay, OL, Laurens
▪ Dennis Daley, OL, Georgia Military/Columbia
▪ Stephen Guidry, WR, Hinds Community College (Miss.)
▪ Will Register, TE, Chapin
▪ Damani Staley, LB, Columbia
▪ Javon Kinlaw, DE, Jones County JC (Miss.)/Goose Creek