By Zac Ellis
A former Penn State quarterback could be making his way to the SEC. Steven Bench, who announced his decision to transfer from Penn State on April 24, is considering heading to Mississippi State, The Dispatch in Columbus, Miss., reports.
Last week, ESPN reported Bench was looking into a handful of destinations, particularly USF and Mississippi State. But national reports have since focused on the Bulldogs, and Bench told The Dispatch that speculation surrounding his interest in Mississippi State is "very accurate."
"I want to feel comfortable at my new school and academics will play a part into it, atmosphere will play a part in the decision because obviously I got to live for the next three or four years," Bench told The Dispatch. "I want to feel at home and I want to have fun and I want to get a good education."
Given the NCAA sanctions at Penn State, Bench is allowed transfer and become immediately eligible to play. He has three years of eligibility remaining. Fifth-year senior Tyler Russell is the projected starter at quarterback for the Bulldogs, but Bench said he isn't ruling out the option of taking a redshirt season to learn the playbook wherever he might land. Bench could give the Bulldogs five scholarship passers on the roster, joining Russell, redshirt sophomore Dak Prescott and freshmen Cord Sandberg and Damian Williams.
"I want a shot to compete for playing time wherever I go to school next," Bench said. "I want a fair opportunity to earn playing time. If we were to take the academics out of the equation and talk about on the field, I'm going to my new school to play football. Not watch football being played." Bench was a three-star recruit out of Cairo High School in Cairo, Ga., and completed 2-of-8 passes for 12 yards in two games last season. He admitted his decision to leave Penn State stemmed from the understanding that junior college transfer Tyler Ferguson and incoming freshman Christian Hackenberg would be the main contenders for the starting quarterback job in State College this fall.