South Carolina fans itching to know the Gamecocks’ starting quarterback for 2016 will have to wait a little longer.
The winner of the three-way contest for the quarterbacking job won’t be named before the first game of the season, The State newspaper of Columbia reported. The Gamecocks open the season at Vanderbilt on September 1; it’s the first of three conference road games for South Carolina in September.
Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp believes not revealing the starter will give his team a tactical advantage against the Commodores. South Carolina beat Vandy last season for its only conference win.
"That’s going to be to our advantage going into the game, a little bit of the unknown that we have," Muschamp said.
The contestants for the position are senior Perry Orth and true freshmen Jake Bentley and Brandon McIlwain. McIlwain enrolled early and went through spring practice.
Orth started eight games for the Gamecocks last season, completing nearly 55 percent of his passes for 1,929 yards, 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He also played one game for the Gamecocks in 2014 against Furman. Orth is recovering from a broken collarbone, which forced him to miss much of spring practice.
McIlwain, a true freshman from Newtown (Pa.) Council Rock North, was a four-star recruit and earned honors as the Gatorade Player of the Year in Pennsylvania during 2015. During South Carolina's spring game, he was 19-of-26 for 169 yards.
The third choice is Bentley, of Opelika (Ala.) High. He took an accelerated route to the Gamecocks, graduating from high school a year early early after a terrific junior season (2,834 yards, 28 touchdowns, 12-1 record) in 2015.
Muschamp also said there is a "very strong possibility" that the Gamecocks will use more than one quarterback against Vanderbilt.
Orth, McIlwain or Bentley? Fans -- and Vanderbilt -- won't know until the starter walks out onto the field for Week 1.
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