Facing a very talented roster featuring 2016 safety prospect Jeawon Taylor and others, Bentley put on a show as the Bulldogs dominated the Thunderbirds last Friday night.
Playing just three quarters, Bentley completed 20-33 passes for 276 yards and four touchdowns to four different receivers as Opelika raced out to a 35-7 lead before the younger players took over in the final frame.
It was the first opportunity for Bentley to take over a team and make it his own after playing watching his older brothers Chas Dodd and Shuler Bentley play the position as a young player and then playing behind Matthew Christian at Opelika last season. Getting the opportunity to be the guy at quarterback is something he has waited on and now it’s finally his shot to show what he can do.
“It’s great,” Bentley said. “I’ve got great teammates that believe in me and it’s fun to get out there and work. You go into practice with a different mindset knowing you’re the starter. I was telling Coach (Brian Blackmon) that I feel more focused this year. I’m ready to play.
“The biggest thing I have learned the last few years is how they all led their teams,” he added of his brothers and Christian. “All of them were great leaders. From my brothers I have learned everything just sitting down watching games together. They’ll pause it or my dad will rewind it and show us something that we need to know.”
Temple, Southern Miss, Cincinnati, Wake Forest and Appalachian State have all added offers for Bentley since Auburn and Miami became the first two for him. With North Carolina possibly on the verge of joining that group as well things are going to heat up for Bentley, something he said he’ll take in stride as he continues to learn more about the programs moving forward.
The key for him is building relationships, something he already has with the Tigers, and not just because his father Bobby is on Gus Malzahn’s staff as an offensive analyst. Determined to make his own decision and choose the school that is the best fit for him, Bentley is treating Auburn like any other school and he’s happy with how the Tigers are recruiting him as well.
“It was really important for Coach Malzahn to say that he’s recruiting me for me and not just because my dad is there,” Bentley said. “He told me that even if my dad wasn’t there he would still recruit me. That was big for me. I already knew that, but just to hear him say it was reassuring.”
While he wants to make his own mark in the football world and do his own thing, Bentley said that won’t be without plenty of support and guidance from his father along the way. One of the most respected high school coaches in the country before joining Auburn’s staff, Bobby Bentley is a resource his son is very happy to have and lean on as he gets ready for what should be an exciting two years of high school football.
“He’s obviously the biggest part of who I have become, not only being a player but as a man, too,” Bentley said of his father. “Ever since I was little we’ve been outside throwing. He’s always constantly telling us something about how practice was or he’ll come out here and watch. He’s constantly wanting us to get better.”