HOOVER, Ala. — South Carolina sophomore Jake Bentley can’t help but be impressed when he looks around at the other young quarterbacks in the SEC.
The upperclassmen, Arkansas senior Austin Allen, Mississippi State redshirt junior Nick Fitzgerald and Missouri junior Drew Lock, may have the edge in experience, but there’s a crop of sophomores nipping at their heels.
Sophomores Jacob Eason (Georgia), Jalen Hurts (Alabama), Shea Patterson (Ole Miss) and Jarrett Stidham (Auburn), along with Bentley, headline the next wave of quarterback talent in the SEC.
Bentley, who threw for more than 1,400 yards with 9 touchdowns in seven games last season, can’t help but take a peak at the conference’s other emerging quarterbacks.
“Everyone says to try not to look at the media, look at the statistics and all that, but it’s kind of hard not to,” Bentley said. “There’s a lot of great quarterbacks in the SEC, a lot of great young guys. It’s great to see their success and I really just try to learn from them, things that they do well. I try to talk to them.”
Hurts, who started 12 games for the Crimson Tide last season, threw for more than 2,780 yards and rushed for another 954, was among the quarterbacks Bentley “got real close” with earlier this summer at the Manning Passing Academy.
On Thursday, at SEC Media Days, Bentley said they swapped ideas about what it was like to “lead the team as a young guy.”
“We talked about whether he was a vocal leader or not. When is the time to be a vocal leader? All the time, I don’t think you have to be the big rah-rah, screaming guy. Just different stuff like that,” Bentley said. “Most of the guys, if they see you working hard, they’re going to follow you, so just talking to him about his whole experience that he’s had and kind of comparing it to mine and trying to just learn from him.”
That wasn’t the only quarterbacking mind that Bentley got a piece of during the camp.
“Just getting to see all the guys from around the country was great, just learning from them,” he said. “Just talking with Peyton about him leading his team, how he did it and how he interacted with his receivers.
“There’s a lot of stuff that he told me that I’m going to use in my game that will hopefully benefit our offense.”