Reprinted with permission from the Bench family. via assets.sbnation.com
Steven Bench, QB.
Having spent some time on some southern staffs in his career, Bill O'Brien made many connections to the south and its deep talent pool of college-bound football players. When he made the decision to bring former Auburn defensive coordinator Ted Roof on the staff, O'Brien further strengthened his ties to the south. And now that both O'Brien and Roof are northerners, their first joint recruiting act had to be go down south and snatch up an under-the-radar quarterback from rural southwest Georgia.
Enter Steven Bench. Standing 6-3 and coming to Penn State somewhere in the 210-220 pound range, Bench was originally a Rice commitment, opting for the Owls in December. However, once O'Brien and Company moved in, they took a look at the depth chart (see below) and were determined to take a QB in the Class of 2012 (Skyler Mornhinweg had once been a '12 commitment, but flipped to Florida in the aftermath of The Thing).
Bench played high school football for the Cairo Syrupmakers (seriously), in addition to playing baseball down in Jawjuh. He is a two- (Scout) or three-star (247Sports, Rivals) prospect whose only other FBS offer came from the aforementioned Rice Owls.
However, that portion of southwestern Georgia isn't as heavily recruited as the more populous areas in and around Atlanta, so Bench didn't have the exposure that some other souther high school players see from college recruiters.
What he immediately brings to Penn State, without even looking beyond just his commitment, is some additional depth at a position that is shaky at best. Three scholarship quarterbacks are currently battling each other for the third straight year, and each have their own issues to deal with, along with transfer rumors that will swirl until September (and likely beyond). Bench provides some safety in numbers, and may arrive on campus this summer and immediately push the starters for first-team reps (it's unlikely, but still possible).
When you go beyond his commitment, though, you see that Penn State may have really scooped up a diamond in the rough. He has been a vocal supporter of Penn State and the new Penn State Way ever since his commitment three short months ago. He is constantly talking to other commits as well as potential recruits via social media, and seems to embody the ideals that many list when discussing "a true Penn State Man."
He has already received a limited playbook from Coach O'Brien and is diligently reading and studying, intent on making an immediate impact in June. At the very least, Bench's impact is in his presence, a stark reminder to the three quarterbacks ahead of him that they need to get their collective stuff together. To Bench, that may not be enough.
"I'm gonna go in there and work hard, work hard until I am the starter. I am gonna try and start this year."