MILLEDGEVILLE — Finishing out his high school career as a senior at Georgia Military Prep School, Nick Bentley made the commitment to continue playing football at Georgia Military College this week with family and friends in attendance.
Bentley was considered one of the top performers on the Bulldogs’ defense last fall, notching 51 tackles on the season in addition to two interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
“Yeah, we didn’t have him for four years — I wish I could have — but Nick’s an outstanding football player,” GMC Prep head coach Steven Simpson said. “Transferring in as a senior, you know, he wasn’t one of the guys that was a big ‘rah, rah’ guy, but he led the team with his actions and his abilities.
“One the things that I think will be a stamp that he left on the program, is that he taught some of our guys that it’s all right to be aggressive, but then be a nice guy off the field. He would just assume knock your head off between the lines, but be your best friend off of it.”
The stout senior will now take his aggressive mentality on defense to the junior college level, where Simpson is sure his skills will be further developed for a higher level of play in the future.
“It’s going to allow him two more years developing his skills, continuing to build,” Simpson said. “Maybe he didn’t have the big-time Division I offers this year, but he has the ability to have that. On a daily basis you see big-time Division I schools coming through here recruiting some of the guys from the junior college. He’s going to have a lot more exposure and it’s going to give him the opportunity to go through the recruiting process all over again at some point, we hope.”
With junior college head coach Bert Williams and his staff consistently fielding top prospects year-in and year-out, Bentley believes it will essentially be like playing at the Division I level.
“With GMC being the number one JUCO in the nation and everybody going D-I from GMC, this is basically like a D-I experience for two years,” Bentley said. “This is basically the best opportunity I could have with the support of my family and everybody.”
Looking ahead, Bentley believes going to school at GMC will help ease the transition from high school to college.
“It means a lot coming to GMC, with them being the No. 1 JUCO in the nation,” he said. “This is a great opportunity for me to experience the college life, to get a feel for the college life and see how it will be when I got to a four-year college. This is basically a great opportunity for me to prepare for a four-year college.”
Simpson is confident that GMC will give Bentley sound structure in his college experience, something most players do not get as incoming freshmen.
“It’s a good thing to be able to sign kids out anywhere, but GMC teaches a kids a lot about organization and about personal responsibility, and a lot of kids need that,” Simpson said. “To be able to have it right here on the campus, and be able to see a kid like Nick play for another two years here — you know, it’s great as a coach because you’ve got him right in your back door and you still get to see him everyday. GMC’s a great place for a young man like Nick to get some extra organization, some extra development and things like that.”
While the opportunity to continue developing both academically and athletically will be available at GMC, Simpson is most excited about Bentley’s chance to join a program that just went 11-0 in the regular season and competed for a national championship.
“It’s a quality program — it played for a national championship last year, and they’re perennial powers every year,” Simpson said. “I mean, a lot of great athletes come through this program, so I’m excited for Nick and his opportunities.”