Penn State's three-man quarterback competition in 2013 has been trimmed to two. Penn State announced on Wednesday afternoon that quarterback Steven Bench has been granted a full release from his scholarship. Just days ago head coach Bill O'Brien was saying Bench will be in competition for the starting quarterback job in 2013 as spring practices wrapped up.
"I have been meeting with all the players this week with my evaluation of where they are at related to football and academics and to discuss what they need to work on this summer," O'Brien said. "After meeting with Steven, he informed me he wants to play elsewhere. We want what is best for Steven. I want to thank him for his contributions to the program. We wish Steven the best in the future and will assist him anyway we can."
Bench played briefly in his freshman season behind Matt McGloin and had about the same production in the Blue White Game as junior college transfer quarterback Tyler Ferguson. Penn State will now head in to the summer with Ferguson looking to compete with incoming freshman recruit Christian Hackenberg. Hackenberg is one of the top-rated quarterback recruits in the country in the Class of 2013 and it was possible Penn State would try to redshirt him in the fall. That possibility no looks like a long shot with depth concerns all of a sudden deeper than expected.
Bench is the fourth quarterback to transfer from Penn State in the past two years. Rob Bolden and Paul Jones each transferred last season, and Kevin Newsome transferred to Temple the previous season.
Reaction: This obviously comes as a surprise, especially given some of the momentum that seemed to be building for Bench, at least for this season. But obviously there was something that Bench was looking for that just did not exist at Penn State, so he will make a decision that is best for him. It will be interesting to see where he ends up and how he does down the line.
Now it looks as though the competition will be down to the junior college transfer (Ferguson) and the incoming freshman (Hackenberg). I guess I would lean toward Ferguson for week one unless Hackenberg comes in and takes firm control of the offense from the start. Which way would you like to see Penn State go now, and does this mean recruiting of a QB now comes back in to focus a bit for 2014?