Hale McGranahan/SEC Country
South Carolina QB Jake Bentley was impressive in his freshman campaign in 2016.

A different perspective on the Jake Bentley hype, praise

Welcome to SEC Country’s Chicken & Waffles, your daily dish for all things South Carolina Gamecocks football, basketball and more. Miss a previous edition? Find every edition of SEC Country’s South Carolina Gamecocks Chicken & Waffles right here.

South Carolina QB Jake Bentley has been a hot topic of conversation this offseason.

From SEC Network analyst Greg McElroy proclaiming Bentley is far greater than UGA counterpart Jacob Eason to earning an invite to be a counselor at the Manning Passing Academy next month, the expectations for the rising sophomore have risen exponentially since the end of 2016.

RELATED: Manning Passing Academy invite is sign of good things to come for Jake Bentley 

Jake Bentley-South Carolina-South Carolina football
QB Jake Bentley was one of many young bright spots for the Gamecocks in 2016. (Rob Fordy/Getty Images)

If you’re looking for a reprieve from the Bentley hype, don’t turn to Shuler Bentley, Jake’s older brother. He’s a believer too…

“You let him get into a rhythm and that’s with any quarterback or like a shooter. I think playing quarterback and playing point guard is the same thing. … When you let a kid, whether it’s a quarterback or a point guard, get into a rhythm, then he gets hard to stop,” Shuler said. “I feel like [with] Jake, the more the game goes on, the better he gets and you can look at the South Florida game, for example.”

When your older sibling can’t help but gush about your talent, you know you’ve got some serious skills — I say this all with 27 years of big-brother experience.

From one quarterback to another…

Four-star quarterback and major South Carolina target Dakereon Joyner punched his ticket to the Elite 11 on Monday.

RELATED: QB target Dakereon Joyner lands Elite 11 invite

The North Charleston, S.C., native is set to announce his pick between South Carolina and North Carolina State on Father’s Day, June 18.

‘Most likely’ a finalist

Four-star WR Josh Van hasn’t named his finalists yet, but feels good about the Gamecocks’ standing.

RELATED: Gamecocks ‘most likely’ will be finalist for WR Josh Vann 

“During a recent interview with SEC Country, Vann said the Gamecocks and Dawgs will ‘most likely’ be his finalists when he makes a decision about his college future,” reports Hale McGranahan. “However, he wants to see more schools before reaching that conclusion.”

The Tucker, Ga., native already has visited South Carolina and Georgia, but has camp invites from LSU, Florida and Tennessee.

Dennis Smith passes on Carolina

Three-star WR Dennis Smith committed to Duke over South Carolina this past weekend.

The Gaffney, S.C., native’s pledge isn’t a complete surprise to his in-state school — the talented receiver nixed plans to attend USC’s SpursUp recruiting event a few weeks ago.

Interesting note: Smith attends Gaffney high school, the same program that produced former USC standout WR Sidney Rice and UNC WR Quinshad Davis.

Mark Alstork visits

Wright State graduate transfer G Mark Alstork was on campus this past weekend for an official visit.

RELATED: South Carolina recruiting 

With Sindarius Thornwell, PJ Dozier, Duane Notice and Justin McKie all departing the program, the Gamecocks would love to bring the former Raiders guard into the fold.

Alstork plans announce his pick on Saturday.

Tourney bound

From Gamecocks Online

For the fifth straight year under head coach Beverly Smith, South Carolina has made the NCAA Tournament, this season heading to the Tucson Regional to play Saint Francis (Pa.) on Friday at 7 p.m. ET at Hillenbrand Stadium.

Sure, the baseball team’s rough go as of late has hogged headlines, but from the men’s and women’s basketball teams to beach volleyball to now softball, I just can’t help but smile seeing all these Gamecocks in their respective tournaments.

With each of these postseason berths, we get to see an equally-awesome reaction vid. This one is no different…

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