University of South Carolina starting quarterback Jake Bentley will transfer from the struggling school after his graduation on December 16 – leaving himself with one year of eligibility at another university (and leaving the Gamecocks without their most experienced offensive player heading into the 2020 season).
Bentley made his announcement on Instagram, saying it was in his best interest to “transfer to play my final year of eligibility.”
“This is one of the toughest decisions I have ever had to make,” the 6-foot-4, 220-pound senior from Opelika, Alabama said. “I will forever be grateful to the coaches, professors, administrators, and my teammates of this great school.”
Bentley’s father – Bobby Bentley – is one of the South Carolina offensive coaches currently under fire in the aftermath of the Gamecocks’ disastrous 4-8 season (which ended on Saturday with a blowout loss to arch-rival Clemson). As of this writing, there is no indication as to whether the elder Bentley – who coaches tight ends – will return for the 2020 season.
In his announcement, the younger Bentley singled out embattled head coach Will Muschamp – thanking him for “giving me the ability to live out my childhood dream of playing college football at the University of South Carolina.”
Here is a look at Bentley’s post …
Bentley was injured on the final play of South Carolina’s season opening 24-20 loss to North Carolina – knocking him out of action for the rest of the 2019 campaign.
After taking over as South Carolina’s starting quarterback midway through the 2016 season, Bentley started 33 games for South Carolina, posting a 19-14 record (and a 10-7 mark against Southeastern Conference opponents). A two-time team captain, he entered his senior season ranked second in school history in completion percentage (62.8), third in pass completions (610) and passing touchdowns (54), fourth in passing yards (7,385), pass attempts (972), and touchdowns responsible for (62), and fifth in total offense (7,533).
Bentley saw his completion percentage drop each season, however – and his interception total climb. In his final South Carolina start against the Tar Heels, Bentley completed only 16 of 30 passes for 142 yards with one touchdown and a pair of costly fourth quarter interceptions.
Bentley’s regression at South Carolina is one of the many reasons Muschamp finds himself in his current predicament.
True freshman Ryan Hilinski inherited the job after Bentley’s injury but struggled with accuracy all season – especially on deep routes. The 6-foot-3, 230-pound Orange, California native – who also played through several injuries – finished his freshman campaign completing only 58 percent of his passes for 2,357 yards with 11 touchdowns and five interceptions.
He went 4-7 as South Carolina’s starter.
South Carolina already lost one of its defensive starters to the transfer portal midway through the season, and there is concern Bentley’s decision to leave Columbia could prompt other players to follow suit. Also, South Carolina is sure to continue suffering on the recruiting trail after the program took another step in the wrong direction this season.
Obviously, any additional defections would further complicate Muschamp’s ability to turn the Gamecock program around – which is already looking like a dubious proposition at best.
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