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QB Steven Bench chooses South Florida over Mississippi State


Penn State transfer QB Steven Bench announces he'll enroll at South Florida in the fall. Bench visited Mississippi State this week.

Penn State transfer QB Steven Bench announces he'll enroll at South Florida in the fall. Bench visited Mississippi State this week.


Matt Stevens


STARKVILLE - Steven Bench wasn't lying when he said he wasn't coming to a school to sit on the bench for any period of time.  


Bench, who just announced earlier this months he would be transferring from Penn State, confirmed on Twitter Thursday morning that he would be attending the University of South Florida next fall.  


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


The announcement by Bench came less than two days after leaving the Mississippi State University campus for a two-day visit. 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 former Penn State quarterback laid out the attractive nature of each school in his mind before he went on the visits. 


Bench said MSU's main selling point is the previous relationship he already has with the program and the staff when he has spoken to MSU assistant coaches Les Koenning and Geoff Collins along with head coach Dan Mullen.  


"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 currently with four scholarship quarterbacks on the roster (Russell, redshirt sophomore Dak Prescott and the two freshman signees in Cord Sandberg and Damian Williams). Sandberg's stock in the upcoming MLB Draft in June continues to rise as the current high school senior is ranked No. 40 on the Baseball America Top 100 draft eligible list. 


South Florida, who is coming off a 3-9 season, and is expected to allow Bench to compete with third-year sophomore Matt Floyd for the starting quarterback position in fall camp for the 2013 season. 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 and under the NCAA sanctions to Penn State is able to play immediately with three years of eligibility remaining. Bench said he decided to leave Penn State because he was under the impressive junior college transfer Tyler Ferguson and incoming freshman recruit Christian Hackenberg would be the two players competing for the starting quarterback role in fall camp. Ferguson and Bench split first-team reps in spring practices that just wrapped up in State College, Pa., last month.  


"I perfectly understand that if it were to be Mississippi State, not saying that it will be or they're leading in this thing but whatever, Tyler Russell is the starter," Bench said. "If I end up at MSU, I want a chance at some point to go in and compete for a starting job.If that's at MSU and then Tyler Russell is the starter then maybe that next spring, I would get a fair shot to start from then on." 




All of the Dispatch MSU Sports Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage.



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