Always the bridesmaid, never the bride. That idiom might best explain the sweet and sour recruitment of senior quarterback Steven Bench, the star of Cairo High School in Camille, Ga. – proud home of the Syrupmakers.
Steven Bench has led his team to the semifinals of the Georgia 3A playoffs.
After a strong summer in which he impressed coaches from programs such as Florida State and Mississippi State with his performance at their respective camps, Bench came away long on compliments, but short on scholarship offers. Several BCS schools have kept in touch throughout the fall, but it seems that Bench is often told that he is “Plan B,” and that he must wait on the decisions of higher-rated quarterbacks who are enjoying being wooed by college suitors.
“All I heard this summer from the BCS coaches was how good I was,” Bench said. “But they were all wanting to wait on the film from the camps and they were waiting on other guys to decide which school they were going to. A lot of coaches told me I was their second choice if a guy went somewhere else.”
As it stands, Bench has six scholarship offers, but none from BCS-level schools. His offers include: Eastern Kentucky, Georgia State, Jacksonville State, Rice, Samford, and South Alabama. Bench said none of the schools are in the lead for his services at this point, although two have been recruiting him the hardest:
“Rice and Samford have been calling me the most,” Bench said. “[Quarterbacks] Coach [Larry] Edmonson and [wide receivers] Coach [Billy] Lynch are the ones I talk to the most from Rice, and [tight ends] Coach [Travis] Trickett and (offensive coordinator) Coach [Rhett] Lashlee are the ones I talk to the most from Samford.”
Although Bench is listed as a pro-style quarterback, he views himself more as a dual-threat. But make no mistake, he sees himself piloting a traditional offense in college.
“I’m not looking to run the triple-option like they have at, say, Georgia Tech or Navy or something like that,” Bench said. “You have to find an offense that fits. I see myself as someone that can make plays with my legs in a more traditional offense.”
But Bench is not focused on his college decision right now. His attention is directed toward Peach County (Fort Valley, Ga.) and their semifinal game this Friday in the Georgia 3A state playoffs. Both teams are No. 1 seeds and Region Champs, and it is expected to be a terrific game. Steven’s father, Steve Bench, is Cairo’s offensive line coach, so the two of them hope to experience one last bit of success before Steven graduates.
“My dad has been a coach for 30-plus years,” Bench said. “Since the minute I was born, I’ve been around football because of him. He’s been my coach ever since I’ve been playing football, even when I was playing flag football when I was six or seven. Hopefully we can get a state championship together.”
More than hoping for it, Bench expects to at least play in the title game.
“I’ll just say this: Cairo makes a trip to the [Georgia] Dome!” Bench said. “I won’t say a score.”
And a state championship just might sweeten his stock enough to get him the big-time offer he’s been waiting for.
“Everyone wants a BCS offer,” Bench said. “But sometimes you have to take the best choice given to you. I just want to play football for four more years. I’m blessed to have six choices of places I can go to do that. My dream is to play at a BCS school and win a national championship, so I’m going to try to get as close to that as I can.”
Bench has taken only two unofficial visits: one of them to FSU last year, and another this summer to Rice. He has no further visits scheduled, other than he plans to take an official visit to Rice at some point in January.
Bench is the No. 47 pro-style quarterback prospect nationally and the No. 93 overall prospect in the state of Georgia, according to 247Sports. He has a grade of 82, making him a 3-star prospect. Bench carries a 3.8 G.P.A. and scored a 1600 on his S.A.T. and a 22 on his A.C.T.