Three South Carolina football players announced that they will be returning for their senior seasons as Gamecocks in 2019.
Quarterback Jake Bentley announced on Jan. 1 via Twitter that he will be returning for his final season at South Carolina, with a caption stating: “One Last Ride. Forever to thee.”
This rising senior finished the 2018 season with 3,171 passing yards, 27 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Bentley will have one more chance to play at Williams-Brice Stadium as a returning starter.
After losing to Virginia in the Belk Bowl, Bentley was not pleased with his performance and how South Carolina executed in the red zone. Bentley still feels like he has much to prove as a Gamecock.
“We just gotta go back and work and remember this feeling,” Bentley said.
Bentley decided not to start his NFL career and focus on his goals at South Carolina.
“When you look at it, our team goals, we haven't accomplished,” Bentley said in his video announcing his return. “So that’s kind of what eats at me, that we haven’t accomplished our team goals yet. That’s what we start every meeting with is to beat the East and win state. That’s the mindset for me, I’ve got to do whatever it takes to accomplish those.”
Along with Bentley, wide receiver Bryan Edwards made his announcement that he would return for his senior season on Jan. 8. He stated in a tweet, “Enjoy y’all Tuesday nights. You can stop asking me now.”
Edwards finished the 2018 season with 55 catches for 846 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. He is ranked sixth on South Carolina career touchdowns with a total of 2,229 career yards.
Edwards will continue to work with Bentley into the 2019 season. With improvements made in South Carolina’s offensive drive, Edwards stated how Bentley has improved in the quarterback position that ultimately affected his receiving game.
“I feel like the game's slowing down for him, towards the end of the year he really started getting the strides and getting the groove and you could tell he was sharp,” Edwards said. “He was making great decisions and he was just being effective and he's continuing to do that.”
Despite not having the season that he had hoped for regarding injuries, Edwards didn't disregard the good things of the 2018 season.
“I struggled with a lot of injuries and just not being 100 percent healthy, and it affected my practice time and it obviously affected me on the field,” Edwards said. “To my standards, it wasn't what I wanted it to be, but obviously I still feel like we got a lot of good things out of it and we won games, but it's always room for improvement.”
Now, Edwards has one more season to reach his goals of having a season that is up to his standards.
In addition to Edwards, offensive lineman Donell Staley made the choice to complete his senior season at South Carolina.
Staley posted a tweet stating, “Proud to announce I will be wearing that gamecock uniform one more time this season. Thanks to gamecock nation for all your support, and let’s make 2019 special!!!”
The 2019 season will mark Staley’s sixth season as a Gamecock and will be vital in the offensive lineman role after Zack Bailey and Dennis Daley graduate.
Staley started 12 games this season at center, but due to offensive lineman Zack Bailey’s injury, Staley played guard during the Belk Bowl.
Bentley, Staley and Edwards will go into an offseason ready to work on improvements for their final season as Gamecocks under the coaching of Will Muschamp.