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Penn State transfer QB Bench picks USF over MSU


Matthew Stevens



STARKVILLE -- Steven Bench wasn't lying when he said he didn't plan to transfer to a school to sit on the bench.  


Bench, who announced earlier this month he planned to transfer from Penn State University, confirmed Thursday morning on Twitter he will attend the University of South Florida in the fall.  


"I've decided to attend the University of South Florida and become a bull," Bench tweeted.  


Bench's announcement came less than two days after he visited Mississippi State University for two days. Bench won't start classes at USF until July 1. However, according to the Tampa Bay Times, he plans to move to Tampa in the "next week or two" to start learning the offense. 


In the phone interview with Bench last week, the quarterback said MSU's main selling point was the relationship he had with the program and the staff. 


"They recruited me out of high school, and I went to their camps to show them my skill set," Bench said. "With Mississippi State, there's no mystery here. They've seen me work, they've spoken to me before and they know what I'm about on and off the field as a person." 


Bench's decision leaves the Bulldogs with four scholarship quarterbacks on the roster (returning starter Tyler Russell, redshirt sophomore Dak Prescott, and freshman signees in Cord Sandberg and Damian Williams). Sandberg's stock in the upcoming Major League Baseball draft in June continues to rise. Baseball America has the high school senior ranked No. 40 on its Top 100 draft eligible list. 


USF, which is coming off a 3-9 season, is expected to allow Bench to compete with third-year sophomore Matt Floyd for the starting quarterback position. The Bulls hired Willie Taggart from Western Kentucky University to replace Skip Holtz in the offseason.  


"I want a shot to compete for playing time wherever I go to school next," Bench said last week. "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." 


The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Bench appeared in two games for the Nittany Lions last season, completing 2 of 8 passes for 12 yards. The Cairo, Ga., native was a three-star recruit out of high school. NCAA sanctions against Penn State allow transfers to play immediately. Bench will have three years of eligibility remaining. 


Bench said he decided to leave Penn State because he believed junior college transfer Tyler Ferguson and incoming freshman recruit Christian Hackenberg would compete for the starting quarterback role in fall camp. Ferguson and Bench split first-team repetitions in spring practice last month. 




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