The question of where quarterback Jake Bentley, an Alabama high school star and son of a first-year South Carolina assistant coach, will play football next season has been answered, and it is a stunner.
Bentley, rated the No. 6 pro-style QB in the Class of 2017, announced Wednesday that he will graduate from high school a full year early and join his father, Bobby Bentley, with the Gamecocks for the 2016 season.
“I am announcing that I will not be playing high school football next year,” Bentley wrote on Twitter. “After doing some research and confirming with my academic counsellors, I will be able to graduate this year. Because I can graduate early, I will be joining the excitement of Gamecock football this summer. Many questions will arise as to why I would forego my senior year. I understand the concerns and I am sure I will miss Friday nights, my friends and most importantly my teammates and coaches.
“I will be forever thankful to the Opelika community for embracing me and my family. Moving to Opelika has been one of the best things to happen so far in my life. I will be a Bulldog for life. I also want to thank the Under Armour All-American Game for selecting me to participate in their prestigious event. But God has prepared me for this moment and I am ready for the next step in my life. Things happen for a reason and I’m ready to join the Gamecock Nation this summer. God bless and Spurs Up.”
He has been a standout at Opelika (Ala.) High School the past two seasons while his father was on Gus Malzahn’s staff at Auburn. The elder Bentley went with Will Muschamp to South Carolina, and the son and star quarterback pledged to join them two weeks ago.
Bentley’s decision adds another elite quarterback prospect to an already-crowded field in South Carolina’s quarterback competition for 2016. Rising senior Perry Orth, junior Connor Mitch and sophomore Lorenzo Nunez all started games in 2015, and Brandon McIlwain, a true freshman who enrolled early, was the No. 2 dual-threat quarterback in the Class of 2016.
Reclassifying and skipping a senior year of high school has happened a few times in basketball in recent years, but it’s a pretty unique situation for a football player to do so.