Penn State closed out spring football practice with two quarterbacks who were competing for a shot at the starting job this fall.
The race between 2012 backup Steven Bench and junior college transfer Tyler Ferguson was apparently even throughout practice, but in a surprise announcement on Wednesday, Bench declared that he was leaving the school.
Bench spent last season learning the Nittany Lions' complicated offense and saw limited playing time behind Matt McGloin. He attempted just eight passes, completing two for 12 yards. Ferguson had previously played at College of the Sequoias in California and threw for 2,614 yards with 22 touchdowns.
Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien had stated that he wasn't planning on naming a starter during the spring and he stuck to that, at least publicly. O'Brien met with both Bench and Ferguson on Wednesday to discuss their development.
It was after Bench's meeting when the quarterback informed the coach he would be leaving.
The competition was expected to heat up this summer when top recruit Christian Hackenberg joins the mix.
Bench and Ferguson had an early opportunity to impress and stand out in the absence of the highly touted Hackenberg this spring. However, neither was able to separate and the two quarterback hopefuls seemed to be neck-and-neck in the competition.
Both performed equally during practice and had a similar number of snaps with the first-team offense throughout the spring.
During the annual Blue-White game on April 20, Bench and Ferguson were both on display, but once again neither stood out.
There were bright spots and mistakes for both. Bench completed nine of 15 passes for 99 yards and a touchdown. Ferguson was nine of 15 for 90 yards and connected for two touchdowns.
Bench's decision to leave Penn State is surprising given the fact that he did not appear to play himself out of the quarterback battle this spring.