Photo from Jake Bentley @JakeBentley19 Twitter
COLUMBIA, S.C. – University of South Carolina junior Jake Bentley is one of 30 quarterbacks named to the 2018 preseason Manning Award Watch List sponsored by the Allstate Sugar Bowl, it was announced today. The winner will be selected by a voting panel, which includes national media and each of the Mannings, after the bowls. The Manning Award was created by the Allstate Sugar Bowl in honor of the college football accomplishments of Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning. It is the only quarterback award that includes the candidates’ bowl performances in its balloting. Bentley, a 6-4, 224-pound junior from Opelika, Ala., has started each of the last 20 games for the Gamecocks, compiling a 13-7 ledger. He ranks 10th in completions (370), second in completion percentage (63.3), 11th in passing yards (4,214) and 11th in passing touchdowns (27) in school history. Additionally, he was named the 2017-18 winner of the SEC Sportsmanship Award for the compassion he showed following the Gamecocks' thrilling win over Tennessee. “We’re very excited to jump into another college football season and to have the opportunity to watch all of the tremendous quarterbacks around the country,” said Archie Manning. “While these 30 quarterbacks have been selected to our Watch List, every quarterback in the nation remains eligible to earn the honor. We will make some midseason additions which will allow us to recognize some new faces as well as some of the standout quarterbacks that are still in the midst of preseason competition.” Inclusion on the Watch List is not necessary for the quarterbacks to be selected for the honor. Midseason additions to the Watch List will be announced on Thursday, October 11. The list of 10 finalists will be released on Thursday, November 29. The winner will be announced in the week following the College Football Playoff National Championship. In its first 14 years, the Manning Award has recognized the top names in college football. It has honored quarterbacks from 12 different schools and from four different conferences. The Big 12 Conference (Baker Mayfield, Vince Young, Colt McCoy and Robert Griffin III) joins the Southeastern Conference (Johnny Manziel, Cam Newton, JaMarcus Russell and Tim Tebow) and the Atlantic Coast Conference (Deshaun Watson twice, Matt Ryan and Jameis Winston) with four Manning Award winners each, while Texas is the only school with two different winners (McCoy and Young). Statistically, the Manning Award has seen a wide-range of quarterbacks. Eleven of the Manning Award men threw for over 3,000 yards in their winning campaign, including 4,000-yard seasons from Mayfield, Griffin III, Marcus Mariota, Ryan, Watson (twice) and Winston. On the other hand, Watson (in 2015), Young, Manziel and Newton were all 1,000-yard rushers during their Manning years. Perhaps most impressive among the statistics of the quarterbacks recognized by the Manning Award is touchdowns scored. Nine of the winners accounted for over 40 touchdowns during their successful seasons – Mariota tallied a Manning Award-best 58 touchdowns during his winning campaign in 2014. One of the more unique aspects of the Manning Award is the fact that it takes account of the quarterbacks’ bowl performances, in addition to the regular season. Twelve of the 14 Manning Award winners won bowl games during the season they won the honor. Nine Manning Award honorees led their teams to the CFP Semifinals or a BCS Championship game appearance (Matt Leinart, Mariota, Mayfield, McCoy, Newton, Tebow, Watson, Winston and Young). Six won national championships (Leinart, Newton, Tebow, Watson, Winston and Young). Previous Manning Award winners have also factored prominently in the NFL Draft as they all heard their names called on Draft Day. Four honorees were selected No. 1 overall (Mayfield, Newton, Russell and Winston), while four others went No. 2 or No. 3 (Griffin, Mariota, Ryan and Young). All the Manning Award winners follow in the footsteps of the Mannings themselves. In college, Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning combined for over 25,000 passing yards and 201 touchdowns while playing in 10 bowl games and earning four bowl MVP awards. Archie was the No. 2 pick in the NFL Draft, while both Peyton and Eli were selected No. 1 overall. In addition to the Manning Award's yearly honor, each week during the regular season, eight quarterbacks are recognized as Manning Quarterbacks of the Week. Sixty-three players from 60 different schools were honored during the 2017 season.