COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina offensive coordinator Kurt Roper wants to recruit quarterbacks who are passionate about playing the position.
All of the big-man-on-campus stuff that comes with being a quarterback in the SEC can get in the way of proper development.
“Here’s how I say it: If you decide to play quarterback, you haven’t picked a position, you’ve picked a lifestyle,” Roper said. “What I mean by that is there’s a lot of guys who really enjoy Saturday, but don’t like [Sunday] through Friday a whole lot.”
That’s critical to playing the most high-profile position in football.
“Preparing on their own. Watching tape on their own. Growing as a quarterback — I kind of want that quarterback, when he’s sitting around by himself or sometimes in class, when his mind wanders, I want it to wander to football,” Roper said.
The mind can’t wander for too long in class, because it could compromise another important part of the equation: trust.
Before that’s even in play, Roper needs to look at a prospect and check off a few boxes on his scouting report.
“The first thing that you’re able to see, because it’s tape, are the physical abilities of the guy,” he said. “Is he a big guy? This is a big man’s game. Is he a big guy? Is he accurate? Can he move his feet? Is he athletic?
“You look at all those things and then the most important thing, to me, once you break down, when you say the guy is big enough, accurate enough, can move well enough, you start diving into is he mentally tough? Is football important to him? Can I trust this guy?
“You a look at those type things all through recruiting, but it’s an all-encompassing process, mentally and physically, in developing these guys.”
Sophomore Jake Bentley, the Gamecocks starter, certainly fits the bill. Roper thinks he has another in Jay Urich, who signed in February.
“You’re wanting a guy that loves the game and loves the process of the game, doesn’t just love Saturday, but loves being a quarterback that would rather come over and watch tape on a Thursday night than go hang out with his friends,” Roper said.