South Carolina’s quarterback race is getting more crowded.
Highly-touted signal caller Jake Bentley, a junior in high school, will reclassify and enroll at South Carolina this summer. He announced the decision to his high school teammates Wednesday morning before making the announcement public on Twitter later in the morning.
Bentley has completed the required class work and received approval to begin playing for the Gamecocks this fall.
“It’s been a long process getting approval from the SEC and the NCAA and South Carolina. It’s been kind of a long deal, but we got confirmation about a week ago, and everything’s good,” Bentley told The State. “In South Carolina I took a lot of high school courses in middle school so I was able to acquire a lot more course credits than the normal student.”
Bentley played his freshman year of high school at Byrnes before transferring to Opelika in Alabama when his dad, Bobby Bentley, accepted a job at Auburn.
Bobby joined Will Muschamp’s staff as the running backs coach at USC this offseason.
Bentley, who committed to USC on March 24, also considered playing the upcoming season at Opelika or transferring to a high school in South Carolina before ultimately choosing to reclassify and play for the Gamecocks in 2016.
“With my family moving I wouldn’t want to play for any other high school than Opelika,” he said. “I put a lot into that team, and what I want to be remembered as is the quarterback there. That’s what went into it.”
Had Bentley remained at Opelika for his senior season, his family would have been separated. Having the opportunity for everyone to be together also factored into his decision, he said.
“It’ll be great that we’ll all be close,” Bentley said. “My little brother is all excited because he can watch dad and brother at the same time. My mom said she’s still not washing my clothes for me, though.”
Bentley is ranked as a four-star prospect for the 2017 class by 247Sports, Rivals and ESPN, and he is rated as the No. 2 quarterback in the country by ESPN.
Bentley will join a South Carolina quarterback race that features Brandon McIlwain, Perry Orth, Connor Mitch, Lorenzo Nunez and Michael Scarnecchia. McIlwain and Orth are considered to be the two favorites for the job as spring practice winds down.
“It’ll be great getting to know them more. They’re great guys. They all welcomed me in after I committed. It’ll be cool to be part of the group,” Bentley said. “They’re very supportive of one another. I’ll go in there and try to make them better, and they’ll make me better so it’ll be good for all of us to compete for the benefit of the whole team.”
Bentley said he has been told he will have a chance to earn playing time as a freshman.
“I believe I can go in there and compete right away,” he said. “I’m ready to work my butt off for the team and do what I can for the benefit of the team.”
Bentley is not a typical junior in high school as he is already 18 years old and turns 19 in November. He believes that will help make the unusual transition easier.
“I think I’m mature enough to do it,” he said. “I’m excited for the opportunity, and I’m going to make the most of it.”