OPELIKA, Ala. – Jake Bentley was going to graduate from Opelika High School in December.
But the four-star quarterback decided to call an audible when his dad, Bobby, a former staffer at Auburn, left with Will Muschamp to coach running backs at South Carolina.
There appeared to be two options: move with his family to Columbia, S.C., or stay behind in Opelika and complete his final semester of high school. However, there were a couple of issues.
For starters, Bentley wasn’t interested in transferring to another high school. Opelika High School head coach Brian Blackmon certainly understood the predicament.
“Jake was very adamant up front, he didn’t want to play for another high school, and he was on track to be an early grad anyway,” Blackmon said, “So when it became more apparent that it would work out that he could graduate an entire year early instead of a semester early … he started looking at what it would take to make this happen.”
In addition to completing his course load for the spring semester, all Bentley needed to graduate before the end of this month was a computer class, so he chose to take the road less traveled.
“It was a long process. It was really making sure that this is what I wanted to do. We sat in here many days after school and before school, just talking about it,” Bentley told SEC Country at Opelika High School on Thursday morning.
“(Blackmon’s) big thing was, would I go to school at South Carolina if I couldn’t do this? That’s what really drove my thought process, and it would be where I would want to go, no matter what.
“I really didn’t want to play for another high school. I felt like I put a lot of time in here. That’s not the only reason why I’m going to South Carolina, but that’s part of it. I just really prayed about it and I feel like it’s the best thing for me to do.”
Blackmon has no beef with Bentley’s decision to graduate from high school in three years.
“We had a chance here to know early, so we could change our plan moving forward,” he said. “It wasn’t a last-minute, oh we just found out when this happened. We were involved in the process — his dad and I were involved in the process from the very beginning.
“While I certainly wanted to keep him here as a quarterback, I also wanted to make sure that, if this was something that he wanted to do, that I was not in the way of him doing that.”
In the video above, Bentley talks about the decision to enroll later this summer, how excited he is to join the South Carolina football program and his familiarity with offensive coordinator Kurt Roper.