HOOVER – Two up-and-coming quarterbacks took their turns with the media on Thursday. Ole Miss’ Shea Patterson began 2016 on the scout team. South Carolina’s Jake Bentley graduated high school a full year early and finished the season as the Gamecocks’ starter when he could have been a senior in high school.

“As far as being the leader and a successful player on our team, I think (Patterson’s) ceiling is very high,” Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze said.

Their abbreviated seasons prevented Patterson and Bentley from posting eye-popping numbers. Patterson threw for 880 yards with six touchdowns in three games, while Bently passed for 1,420 yards and nine touchdowns in seven games.

But the way they finished the season brought some excitement to both programs.

“When he came in, he bought us a spark and a charge to see him go through the offseason program to spring ball now into the summer, really understands how to be a quarterback,” South Carolina coach Will Muschamp said. “And that’s what excites me.

This would normally be the time for Bentley to prepare for the start of his college career. Instead, he’s representing South Carolina to the assembled media in Hoover as an incumbent.

“I’ve gotten more comfortable with everything, from the way classes work to the workouts in the morning,” he said. “Everything has become more of a routine now. It’s all more comfortable, more comfortable in our offense, just trying to get better every day because at the end of the day that’s all we can do.”

Colorado Connection

Auburn kicker Daniel Carlson and Alabama punter JK Scott have been in-state rivals twice in their careers. Carlson graduated from high school in Colorado Springs, Colorado in 2013. Scott arrived at Alabama from Denver in 2014.

Now they’re both All-American candidates and among the best specialists in the country.

“I met (Scott) at different camps,” Carlson said. “We always talk to each other after games and stuff. He’s obviously one of the best at what he does. I am hoping he takes it easy on us or that he just has to punt a lot. I am always cheering for other specialists across the country.”

Word count

Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze had the longest opening statement of any coach this week by far. He spoke for more than 16 minutes before taking a question. His opening statement checked in at 2,773 words. LSU’s Ed Orgeron nearly equaled that with a 2,640-word opening statement.

The shortest opening statement of the week was 213 words from Florida’s Jim McElwain. Most opening statements from coaches checked in between 1,000 and 1,500 words.

Reach Ben Jones at ben@tidesports.com or 205-722-0196.