ATLANTA, GA. (WSFA) - South Carolina junior quarterback Jake Bentley has enjoyed the fruits of a year and a half of SEC football experience and now looks to make big strides heading into his third year.
As a freshman, Bentley started the final seven games for Will Muschamp and the Gamecocks, earning a 4-3 record, and he had an even better sophomore season. In his first full season as the starter Bentley threw for 2,794 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Bentley started his college career a year early. He graduated as a junior from Opelika High School and then enrolled at South Carolina. That got him the experience of playing in the toughest conference in all of college football earlier than most, but if you ask Jake, this is something that playing football at Opelika prepared him for.
"I definitely think Coach Blackmon at Opelika definitely did a good job with our team and me with preparing us for college and how it works, the preparation and making sure we're watching film and what to look for," said Bentley of his high school football coach Brain Blackmon.
Jake moved to Opelika from Duncan, South Carolina, after his freshman year of high school. Under Blackmon's coaching, Bentley led the Bulldogs to a 12-1 record in his junior season.
Bentley spoke highly of the Bulldog program and of the city of Opelika itself during his media presser Thursday at SEC Media Days.
"The whole community of Opelika, I really just owe a lot to them. Just accepting me when I went down there, just kind of growing me and shaping me into who I am today," said Bentley. "Just a lot of great people down there. Just a great program [Opelika football], a lot of great players."
Bentley enters his junior season at South Carolina 11th in school history in passing touchdowns, with 27.
South Carolina's season opens Sept. 1 against Coastal Carolina.