Most fans thought that if a true freshman quarterback was going to lead the South Carolina Gamecocks, it wasn’t going to be Jake Bentley.
Bentley wasn’t as highly touted as a recruit compared to Brandon McIlwain, but it was Bentley who led the Gamecocks down the stretch and to a bowl game. And now going into the his second season entrenched as a starter, Bentley and South Carolina’s future look very bright.
In speaking on The Paul Finebaum Show, South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp attributed Bentley’s early success not to his given ability but rather his maturity.
“Some guys who are a little older aren’t all that mature and then some younger are mature beyond their years and I would say Jake is mature beyond his years,” Muschamp said. “Some guys are able to handle the moment and he handled it very well.”
Bentley threw for 9 touchdowns and 4 interceptions last season despite not playing in the first six games of the season. He completed 65.8 percent of his passes and threw for 1,420 yards. He got off to a 4-1 start as the Gamecocks’ starter, but ended the season with two losses against Clemson and South Florida.
Bentley’s play and maturity even surprised his head coach to some degree. Muschamp admitted that he was surprised how well Bentley played. Muschamp added that the Gamecocks also saw the emergence of Hayden Hurst and Rico Dowdle, but gave credit to the quarterback as well.
“I didn’t know, I didn’t know to be honest. I couldn’t sit there and tell you that I felt like things were going to roll the way they did,” Muschamp said. “But he certainly played well.”
The Gamecocks have their spring game on Saturday with kickoff scheduled for noon ET. South Carolina and Bentley open their season on Sept. 2 against NC State in Charlotte, N.C.