Bench Focused On Three

Steven Bench inked with Penn State in 2012 out of Bainbridge, Georgia after picking up an offer late in the process.

Steven Bench inked with Penn State in 2012 out of Bainbridge, Georgia after picking up an offer late in the process. Bench, who was committed to Rice when Penn State offered, worked his way into the mix as a true freshman, where he played in two games, completing 2-of-8 passes for 12 yards.

However, he elected to leave the program in the spring after failing to win the starting quarterback job and is currently looking at three schools.

"For me, it's NC State, Mississippi State, and South Florida," said Bench. "I believe all three have offered me a scholarship. I like several factors about all three schools so I want to take my visits and see which program can separate from the others."

The visits start today for Bench.

He will first check out South Florida (May 13-14) before heading to NC State later in the week (May 17-19). Bench will conclude his visits with a trip to Mississippi State (May 20-21).

"I'm excited about them. Really, I just want to see what they all have to offer."

South Florida has the first crack at Bench. First-year head coach Willie Taggart and his staff will get the chance to make the first impression.

"I've talked to coach Taggart a few times, and I really like him," said Bench. "The idea of living in Tampa, I'm sure that would be fun. It's kind of a recruiting hotbed, so you're going to have players around you.

"Also, it sounds like they are looking for a guy that can be the face of the program. It's a really exciting opportunity."

The school he is most familiar with is Mississippi State. The Bulldogs recruited Bench out of high school, and he has a strong relationship with the coaching staff.

"Mississippi State is the only one that was already on me when I was in high school," he said. "So, I know a lot of their coaches. The SEC is really enticing, the idea of being able to play in the SEC West speaks for itself. Going into some of those stadiums is really exciting.

"Plus, I feel like their offense really fits me well as far as allowing me to go in there and make plays with my legs and my arm."

NC State is in the mix for a variety of reasons.

"I've talked to coach Doeren a lot over the last couple of weeks," said Bench. "We have a great relationship. I think living in Raleigh would be fun and playing teams like Florida State, that would be exciting. I actually grew up about 30 minutes from Tallahassee and both my parents went to FSU so I'm familiar with the ACC.

"Also, their offense really sticks out. The pistol stuff they run, the offense he ran at Northern Illinois, it really fits me as well as a player and just would allow me to make plays. I can do it throwing the ball or running the ball... I can run the show."

Bench is in a unique situation. Given Penn State's recent NCAA issues, he has the chance to transfer and is eligible to play this fall with four years left to play three seasons.

Most might assume that Bench is looking for the place where he can play right away, given his departure from Penn State, but he says that isn't the case.

"I have to make a smart decision," he said. "I know that at NC State and South Florida, both of those have what seems like open quarterback competitions in the fall where I could compete for a starting job. I also know that Mississippi State has Tyler Russell, a fifth-year senior returning who will likely be starting once again, but, that doesn't mean I'm not seriously considering Mississippi State.

"I'm going to go in wherever I go and compete, but I'm not making a one-year decision. Because I played this year, I still have my redshirt year so I could still redshirt if I needed to and have three full years left to play."

Bench says that he hopes to make a decision as soon as he takes his final visit. Does he have a leader heading into the trips?

"I'm going in with a wide open mind. I want to be able to look at all three equally before choosing. There is no leader... they are all even in my book."

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