Without Marcus Lattimore, Jake Bentley might not be the rising star quarterback for South Carolina.
Bentley credited Lattimore with inspiring his love for Gamecocks football during a Tuesday interview posted online by the athletic department.
“Seeing him, how hard he ran, how hard he worked – it really drove me to be the best I could be throughout my young career,” Bentley said.
Lattimore, who played running back from 2010-12 during the peak of Steve Spurrier’s tenure in Columbia, rushed for 2,677 yards and 38 touchdowns for the Gamecocks.
Bentley, who took over as starter midway through his true freshman season last year, also discussed how his growing experience through spring practice and fall camp is helping him read defenses faster.
“You see little things about a defense that set off what they’re going to do a little, tips that you can see,” Bentley said. “That’s the main thing that hits you quicker.”
Bentley said one reason for his improvement came during the summer, when he worked as a counselor at the Manning Passing Academy.
He’s also getting some guidance from center Alan Knott as he continues to build his connections with the offensive line.
“He’s so smart. He sees stuff before I do most of the time,” Bentley said. “Just getting that chemistry with him has been great.”
Bentley said one trend stands out about his second fall camp with the Gamecocks.
“The competitiveness around the whole offense,” he said. “You see guys really getting after it pretty good every day, no matter if it’s hot, no matter what the circumstances are. Guys are really coming out to practice the right way and they have the right mentality.”
With his deep ties to South Carolina football, Bentley said he hopes to join Lattimore and other Gamecocks legends – but he knows he’s got a long way to go.
“You look up and you see the names on the staircase, whatever it is, you see that and it makes you just want to be like them, want to be one of the greats,” Bentley said. “But those guys worked extremely hard, and that’s what I’ve got to do to get to that level.”
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