Auburn has seemingly become an afterthought for Jake Bentley, as his recruitment with other schools has picked up significantly in recent weeks.
Bentley, a four-star quarterback from Opelika, Ala., has slowly distanced himself from the program that his father, Bobby Bentley, had worked for the previous two seasons.
“They had the coaching changes there,” said Bentley, who participated in the Nike Regional Combine in Atlanta over the weekend. “That’s kind of been a factor. Just in general. It hasn’t really been one guy. I want to see everything settle down and see how they mesh together as coaches. It’s nothing against Coach Malzahn and Coach Lashlee, they’re two great guys. I still talk to Coach Lashlee, I just haven’t been over there as much.”
Though Bentley has long been considered a top Auburn target, it would appear he’s trending elsewhere. Former Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp hired his father, once a well-known high school coach in South Carolina before moving to the college ranks, to be the running backs coach for the Gamecocks. Recent offers from rivals Alabama and LSU — two of his conceded favorites — have only widened the gap for Auburn.
And while Bentley has heard more from Lashlee in recent weeks, particularly in light of four-star quarterback Lowell Narcisse’s decision to reopen his recruitment in January, he admitted he never felt he was atop the program’s big board.
“I kind of felt behind Narcisse when he was there,” Bentley said. “Since he de-committed, Coach Lashlee and I have spoken more. Definitely, when he was there, I kind of felt behind him. But I know how it goes, being a coach’s son, I know how recruiting is.”
Bentley is also curious to see how the program bounces back following a 6-6 season. The Tigers finished with a 2-6 record in conference play.
“Just getting back to what Auburn is all about — winning,” Bentley said. “Just see them get back there. I know they will. They have great coaches.”
He added: “The quarterback position kind of got them. You can’t be successful without a good quarterback. Not to say that Shaun (White) and Jeremy (Johnson) aren’t good quarterbacks. I guess they didn’t gel well this year. I don’t know what the problem was.”
Bentley, who is rated the No. 6 pro-style quarterback in 2017, maintained that the window is still open for Auburn. But the Tigers face stiff competition in LSU, Alabama, Stanford, Miami and South Carolina, among others.
All rankings are according to the 247Sports Composite