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Penn State Football's Steven Bench: At Quarterback, No. 12 is the Loneliest Number

by on November 29, 2012 12:01 AM

And then there was one.

Here’s just the very beginning of what you need to know about Penn State freshman quarterback Steven Bench…

…And the other QBs on Penn State’s roster:

There are none.

…And his line in the official game day program:

12 Bench, Steven, QB, Fr./Fr., 6-2, 204, Cairo High School/(coach) Tom Fallaw, Bainbridge, Ga.

…And his 2012 statistics:

Two games played (Virginia, Purdue), 2 of 8 passing for 12 yards, 3 runs for 18 yards.

…And a quick evaluation on Nov. 17 by quarterback coach Charlie Fisher:

“It isn’t easy. Steven’s trying to learn, probably no different than any other freshman across the country. He doesn’t get a bunch of reps because obviously you have a starter for a reason, and that guy gets most of them.

“Ask me that question (an update) in the spring and we’ll know a little bit more. That’s hard. That wouldn’t be fair to Steven. Has he gotten better? Absolutely. Is he learning what we’re doing? Absolutely. He practices hard and when he gets reps we expect him to do well.

“I guess pressure’s what you make out of it. If you prepare and you work hard... Obviously right now he is our only quarterback. He’s got to be ready to go.”

…And his Twitter account:

Steven Bench @SBench12. A prolific 21,694 Tweets. Follows 227 people, including Adam Taliaferro, Paul Jones, Daryll Clark, Michael Robinson, Adam Breneman and Evil Bill O’Brien. Has 4,852 followers. Bio: “Stay far from timid, Only make move when your heart’s in it, And live by the phrase sky’s the limit. 12”

…And an opinion shared with me on Nov. 18 by 2012 record-setting quarterback Matt McGloin, who practiced alongside Bench all season:

“He’s got his work cut out for him. He’s an 18-year-old kid. He has the team on his shoulders, if he wins the job. He has to compete; I know (Bill O’Brien) is bringing in a kid and they’re looking at some other guys.

“I have no doubt he’s learning. He wants to learn. He’s hungry, you can tell. As an older guy, I tried to do the best I could to lead by example for him. I’ve tried to teach him some things and show him the correct way. No matter what, I always told him that you can’t take anything for granted, no matter what. You have to work for it. He understands that and he’s ready for the challenge.

“I have a lot of faith in him. He won’t know what it’s really like until he’s in that position. He’s been doing a really good job of trying to get the offense down. He’s a young kid, so he has a long way to go. It seems like he’s willing to put in the time and effort.”

...And a play-by-play recap of his one major appearance in 2012, at Virginia in the second week of the season after McGloin left for parts of three drives with a dinged elbow:

First Drive, Second Quarter

4th and 4, at VA 33 – Bench sacked for 2-yard loss

Second Drive, Second Quarter

1-10, PSU 20 – Curtis Dukes rush for 8 yards

2-2, PSU 28 – Bench rush for 5 yards, First Down

1-10, PSU 33 - Derek Day rush for 3 yards

2-7, PSU 36 – Day rush for 5 yards

3-2, PSU 41 - Day rush for 2 yards, First Down

1-10, PSU 43 – Bench complete to Allen Robinson for 7 yards

2-3, PSU 50 – Bench pass incomplete to Robinson

3-3, PSU 50 – Bench pass incomplete to Robinson

4-3, PSU 50 – Bench run for 15 yards, First Down

1-10, VA 35 – Bench pass incomplete to Shawney Kersey

2-10, VA 35 – Bench pass incomplete to Robinson

3-10, VA 35 – Bench pass complete to Robinson for 5 yards

4-5 VA 30 – End of First Half

First Drive, Third Quarter

1-10, PSU 20 – Bench pass incomplete to Alex Kenney

…And an update on high school phenom and ace Penn State recruit Christian Hackenberg, a top candidate to fight Bench for the starting job in the fall, courtesy of Ryan Snyder, recruiting analyst for Blue White Illustrated:

“Hackenberg remains 100 percent committed to Penn State and I personally don't see that changing at all. Not only has his family basically shut off any communications they may have once had with other schools for a backup plan if things didn't go well this year, but Christian has also been actively recruiting for Penn State lately.

“Just this past weekend he spent a lot of time with potential 2014 prospects that Penn State is off to a good start with. Those younger prospects know all about a player like Hackenberg as well, so the positive vibes that Penn State isn't going to drop off is definitely wearing off on potential four-star prospects next year. Guys like Christian, Adam Breneman, Brendan Mahon, Garrett Sickels and Andrew Nelson have a lot to do with that.”

…And the potential of a junior college quarterback coming to Penn State to also fight Bench for the starting position, again courtesy of Snyder:

“Penn State is in a great position with Iowa Western Community College quarterback Jake Waters. He took an official visit during the same weekend as the Indiana game and came away really impressed. While he never publicly stated that one team was ahead of another, many in the media knew that Kansas State was his leader before the Penn State visit. Now, despite the fact that he still hasn't publicly admitted it, many people who cover Iowa Western, Kansas State, Penn State or recruiting in general believe that Penn State is the team to beat.

“Bill O'Brien will visit with Waters and his family at their home in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on Dec. 10. He could very well end up committing to Penn State shortly after.”

…And three of Bench's recent Tweets:

“@kyle_horne yessir!! About 8 hours until I’m the leading passer haha. Ill be the last QB on campus”

“Last Friday night roomin with @McGloinQB11. Gonna miss the guy”

“They don’t know about me but they gone to find out”

...And this is only the beginning.

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Mike Poorman has covered Penn State football since 1979. He is a senior lecturer in Penn State's College of Communications and teaches a pair of classes in the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism: “Sports Writing” and “Introduction to the Sports Industry.” He created and taught for several years the Center’s course on “Joe Paterno, Communications and The Media.” Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/PSUPoorman. His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State University.
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