Bench's departure leaves Penn State with two scholarship quarterbacks for the 2013 season.
Penn State's starting quarterback race has gotten a little bit clearer, at least for the time being.
Multiple sources informed Lions247 on Wednesday afternoon that sophomore Steven Bench has been granted his release from the program and will seek a transfer. He will complete the spring semester at Penn State. Head coach Bill O'Brien confirmed the story in a statement on Wednesday afternoon.
"I have been meeting with all the players this week with my evaluation of where they are at related to football and academics and to discuss what they need to work on this summer," said O'Brien. "After meeting with Steven, he informed me he wants to play elsewhere. We want what is best for Steven. I want to thank him for his contributions to the program. We wish Steven the best in the future and will assist him anyway we can."
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Bench, of Camilla, Ga., had the most experience of any of the Nittany Lions' four quarterbacks this spring, when he evenly split the first-team practice repetitions with junior-college transfer Tyler Ferguson, also a sophomore. The quarterbacks had nearly equal stats in the Blue-White Game, both completing 9 of 15 passes. Ferguson had two touchdown passes and Bench had one.
Bench played in two games as a true freshman last season, getting the majority of his work early in the loss at Virginia when starter Matt McGloin was temporarily sidelined with a minor injury. He finished 2-of-8 for 12 yards passing and added 18 yards rushing on three attempts.
A Region 1-AAA Offensive Player of the Year as a senior at Cairo (Ga.) High School, Bench was one of the first players to commit to Bill O'Brien after the coach was hired in January 2012. He had committed to Rice a month earlier but had no other major scholarship offers.
The Nittany Lions will enter 2013 with two scholarship quarterbacks -- Ferguson and incoming freshman Christian Hackenberg, a Top 247 prospect -- and run-on freshmen Austin Whipple and D.J. Crook, who enrolled in January, and Jack Seymour, who will arrive this summer.