Wednesday night, former South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley announced via Twitter that he was transferring to South Alabama. The announcement — “Final chapter. Fired up to get to work?” he wrote on Twitter along with the word proclamation “Committed” — was warmly received by Jaguar fans and added a new element to the start of Kane Wommack’s start as South Alabama’s new head coach.
Bentley started 33 of the 34 games he played at South Carolina, throwing for 7,527 yards, 55 touchdowns and 32 interceptions. He transferred to Utah, where he was a part-time starter this past season, throwing for 882 yards, six touchdowns and six interceptions while also rushing for 113 yards and one score.
He was a standout at Opelika High School, throwing for 2,834 yards and 28 touchdowns as a junior, then skipped his senior season there to enroll early at South Carolina.
In an interview with Lagniappe later Wednesday night, Bentley discussed his decision to transfer to South Alabama and what he believes he can bring to the program:
Q: What was it about South Alabama that attracted you?
A: I think one, playing high school ball in Opelika, I wanted to get back to the great state of Alabama. I have a lot of great memories in the state and I wanted to get back. The connection made with coach Wommack and coach (Major) Applewhite (offensive coordinator, QB coach) was huge for me. … I really hit it off with them. What coach Wommack is going to bring as far as culture building and defense and coach Applewhite, just the success that he has had offensively and getting after defenses. He’s really fired up about that. The other big key is my quarterback trainer, David Morris, he’s in Mobile at QB Country. And (South Alabama all-conference receiver) Jalen Tolbert came and caught for us many times (at QB Country) and I saw how special he was just in throwing and catching and just watching him on Saturdays. I’m fired up about the guys and the playmakers and I’m ready to get to work.
A: How much did you know about South Alabama and what the team has done in the past, especially offensively? And how big an influence was having Applewhite as the offensive coordinator?
A: I think when you watch South the past couple of years, you see playmakers. You see guys who can do things when the ball gets in their hands, and they are special guys. I know it’s a relatively new program, but that’s what makes it exciting. It makes it exciting to go there and put a stamp on bringing the program up and making a splash with a team like Coastal (Carolina) or Louisiana made last year. To be that team that makes that big splash in the college football picture and I’m glad to have the opportunity to do that.
Q: What do you feel you bring to the program, especially with it being a young program and having had some ups and downs at the quarterback position?
A: I think the biggest thing and the most obvious thing is experience and leadership and being in those tough spots and being in those workouts in the offseason when it’s hot and it sucks and you don’t want to run anymore and knowing that pushing through those is what makes great teams. I’m excited to go down there and do the best I can to elevate the team; that’s the biggest thing. Offensively and on the field, I think I can push the ball down the field. That’s what coach Applewhite wants to do. He wants to get guys going down the field and challenging defenses vertically and I can’t wait to do that.
Q: How big of an attraction is it that it’s a relatively new program, a brand new stadium and you’ve got a new coaching staff that has created a lot of energy coming in, with a lot of excitement around town as to what this staff could possibly do?
A: It was a huge attraction. Just the energy and passion. You talk to coach Wommack for five minutes on the phone and you see how passionate he is about South. I’ve heard great things about the administration there and it is shown through the facilities they have and the money and time they put into the stadium. When all those things start adding up, that’s when you get something special. I really wanted to be part of it.
Q: When do you plan to get here and what’s the first thing you want to do once you get to Mobile?
A: I never brought my stuff back from St. Lake, Utah, yet, so me and my mom are flying out there on Sunday then we’ll make the 30-hour drive down to Mobile. We did when I moved out there and when we made that trip we went more of a northern way, going through Nebraska, Wyoming, Missouri, all those. This time we’re going down through New Mexico and make the trek across Texas and Louisiana and Mississippi. It will be a fun deal, a fun time and a good bonding time with me and mom and getting to see the country. I should get to Mobile on Thursday and get moved in and get ready to roll. I think the day to report is the 17th so when I get there I need to be ready to roll.
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