As noted last week, Georgia has been hitting the recruiting trail looking for a quarterback for the class of 2017. While much of that work has gone on in the Peach State, Coach Smart and crew are also working outside the state's boundaries. One Alabama QB prospect offered by Mark Richt has continued to be recruited by the new staff.
Jake Bentley out of Opelika High is a 6'4, 215 pound junior who's ranked among the top players in the class of 2017. In his first full year as a starter Bentley put up impressive numbers, completing 58% of his passes for 28 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. You can see his junior highlights below:
There's a lot to like about Jake Bentley. He has the prototypical size you look for in a pocket passer. But he also has quick feet to evade the rush, and while no Michael Vick by any means, he has enough athleticism to run for the sticks or take the occasional read option keeper. Given that he's already torn the ACLs in both knees (one in the 8th grade and one in the 9th) that's a prohibitively good sign.
Bentley has a good quick release, also throwing the ball from a solid high release point. You'll note on throws at the 1:32 and 1:46 mark that Bentley also has solid velocity on the ball. Not Matt Stafford velocity, at least not yet. But definitely SEC level. I also like some of the deep throws on which he seems to have good touch. He does hold a couple of receivers up by lofting it a little too high, but all in all he's got the throws.
Bentley's father is South Carolina running backs coach Bobby Bentley, for whom he also played when the elder Bentley was the head coach at South Carolina powerhouse Byrnes High. The Gamecocks will certainly be a contender for his signature on National Signing Day. I would also keep an eye on Stanford, which is also a contender for Greater Atlanta Christian's Davis Mills. Nor should anyone rule out Auburn (which offered Bentley when he was a freshman) or LSU (which just got around to offering him last week). Finally, keep an eye on Miami, as Mark Richt was also among the first coaches to offer Bentley.
Securing a truly elite signal caller for 2017 may be a tough task with Jacob Eason already in the Classic City. But if Eason does in fact play as a true freshman (which seems likely) a 2017 QB could sign on with the idea that he'd redshirt in 2017, back up Eason in 2018, and then have either two or three seasons to be the #1 guy. At a minimum, it's safe to say that if Coach Smart and crew don't sign a quarterback in this cycle, it won't be for lack of effort. Until later . . .