Wed., July 13, 2016
QB Peyton Bender transfers to junior college, could still return to WSU
Backup quarterback Peyton Bender will play this season at Itawamba Community College in Fulton, Mississippi.
The redshirt sophomore was already academically ineligible to play this fall at Washington State.
According to his father, Mike, Bender failed a macroeconomics class and received a failing grade in another class after receiving too many unexcused absences. Mike Bender blamed Peyton's decision to join a fraternity as a social member for his academic struggles.
Both Leach and his father believed that Bender needed to mature and develop new social circles, possibly away from Pullman.
"I said you can't be a frat boy and a division one football player," Mike Bender said. "If you're going to choose to go down the path of a Division I athlete you're held to a different standard, that's the way life goes."
Mike Bender said that WSU coach Mike Leach encouraged Bender to play at a junior college this fall to continue receiving game experience (Bender does not have a redshirt year available) and then return to Pullman in January.
"It was the result of all of his own stuff," Mike Bender said. "He could have stayed. Leach wanted him to stay, but he would have been ineligible. He could have practiced and dressed with the team. He didn't fail out of school."
The Cougars coach recommended a junior college in California, but Bender, who hails from Georgia and attended a high school in Florida, preferred to play in the Southeast.
Bender signed with WSU in 2014, choosing the Cougars over a scholarship offer from Penn State. While in Pullman he displayed superior passing ability thanks in large part to smooth footwork and a natural delivery, but was unable to beat out Luke Falk for the starting position.
After a spring battle with Tyler Hilinski, Bender appeared the clear No. 2 starter behind Falk, a position he held last season while competing 58 of 91 passes for 498 yards and three touchdowns.
Now Hilinski will backup Falk, with the third-string job likely to fall to Anthony Gordon, a junior college recruit who the Cougars signed as a response to Bender's ineligibility.