South Carolina has signed 15 quarterbacks to scholarships since 2005, several of whom went on to have successful careers.
To gauge the Gamecocks hit rate at the position, SEC Country examines who did what during their respective careers in Columbia:
2006: Chris Smelley – HIT
Smelley enjoyed a relatively successful career as the quarterback at South Carolina. In 15 career starts, the Gamecocks went 9-6. By the end of his career, he was among the school’s top 10 in completions, attempts, completion percentage and touchdowns. Smelley’s college days ended as a catcher for the Alabama baseball team.
2007: Stephen Garcia – HIT
Despite a litany of off-the-field troubles, which ended with a dismissal during his senior year, Garcia became the third quarterback in school history to throw for more than 7,500 yards in a career. He also finished third in pass attempts, pass completions and passing touchdowns.
2008: Reid McCollum, Aramis Hillary
McCollum appeared in two games at South Carolina, completing 4 of 6 passes for 39 yards and a touchdown. Hillary never played before he transferred to Coastal Carolina, where he finished first in school history in completion percentage.
2009: Andrew Clifford
For the duration of his four-year career, Clifford served as a backup quarterback, making appearances in five games.
2010: Connor Shaw – HIT, Dylan Thompson – HIT
By the time his career came to a close, Shaw’s name was mentioned in the same breath as Steve Taneyhill, Todd Ellis and the other quarterbacks considered as the all-time greats at South Carolina. Shaw is first in school history in wins (27) and completion percentage (66 percent).
Thompson spent most of his career filling in when Shaw went down with an injury. In 2014, his only season as the full-time starter, he set school single-season records for completions (270) and passing yards (3,564).
Both have gone on to careers in the NFL — Shaw with the Browns and Bears and Thompson with the 49ers and Rams.
2011: Tanner McEvoy, Martay Mattox
McEvoy transferred after redshirting during his only season at South Carolina. He landed at Wisconsin, where he played safety, wide receiver and quarterback. In 2016, he caught 2 touchdown passes for the Seattle Seahawks.
Mattox was moved to defensive back shortly after he arrived at South Carolina. Since the Gamecocks were pretty loaded at the position, he left for greener pastures. He transferred to a junior college before signing with Charlotte. During his only season with the 49ers, he led the team in tackles.
2012: Brendan Nosovitch
Before transferring to Pittsburgh, Nosovitch was moved to tight end.
2013: Connor Mitch
Mitch entered the 2015 season as South Carolina’s starting quarterback, but his season was cut short to injury. In 2016, Mitch transferred to James Madison, where he served as a backup quarterback.
2014: Michael Scarnecchia
Scarnecchia redshirted in 2014, played a handful of snaps in 2015, then missed all of 2016 with an injury.
With Jay Urich set to sign in February, Scarnecchia will have more competition for the No. 3 quarterback job.
2015: Lorenzo Nunez
As a freshman in 2015, Nunez completed 32 of 52 passes for 376 yards and 3 touchdowns, to go along with 375 yards rushing, which was second best on the team. In games he started, the Gamecocks were 1-1. Coach Will Muschamp moved Nunez to wide receiver in 2016. After the season, Nunez announced he was transferring, because he wanted to play quarterback.
2016: Brandon McIlwain, Jake Bentley
South Carolina went 1-2 in the three games McIlwain started in 2016. For the season, he completed 62 of 118 for 600 yards with 2 touchdowns and an interception.
With Bentley as the starter, the Gamecocks were 4-3. Bentley completed 125 of 190 passes for 1,420 yards with 9 touchdowns and 4 interceptions.
Bentley enters 2017 as the starting quarterback.
The Hit Rate: 34 percent
Because he originally joined the program as a walk-on, Perry Orth, was not counted. The three quarterbacks still on the roster also didn’t make the final count (4 of 12).
The late downturn in success correlates with the effort Steve Spurrier put forth on the recruiting trail during his final years at South Carolina.