After an extensive period of deliberation, Bryan Bennett confirmed with me that he plans to transfer from Oregon to Southeastern Louisiana despite informing CSN last week of his intentions to stay with the Oregon Ducks program. In our latest exchange, he said,
"Things have been crazy for me making decisions and finding what's best for me at this time in my life. I love and respect Oregon and everyone that was along that journey in my life. But this is what's best for me and it's time for me to start another journey."
When we spoke on January 12th, two days before Chip Kelly's decision to leave for the Philadelphia Eagles, Bennett had plans to stay:
It's official that I'm staying. My heart is with this team and with us competing to be the best football team in the country.
At that point, everything went back to “business as usual”, as Rob Mullens had reiterated in his press conference, informing the media that Chip Kelly remained head coach of the Ducks. Since then, Chip Kelly left for the NFL, Mark Helfrich was promoted to head coach, Scott Frost is reportedly the new OC and QB coach and Bryan Bennett had a change of heart.
DuckTerritory first reported the news Monday evening.
When asked why the change of heart, Bennett replied, "It's just what I feel is right for me."
Southeastern Louisiana is an FCS program, making Bennett immediately eligible to play this fall as a junior.
Neither UO or Southeastern officials have immediately confirmed the report.
Bennett saw time as Oregon's QB, late, in 9 games this season, passing 3 Tds against 3 INTs after losing a hotly contested competition during fall camp to Marcus Mariota. Bennett also rushed for 165 yards and 6 Tds this past season.
In 2011, the Encino, California native shined as back-up to Darron Thomas in 2011, playing in 8 games, starting 1 (against Colorado), throwing 6 touchdowns against 0 interceptions. Bennett was also the teams 6th leading rusher, with 200 yards on 23 carries.
Bennett's departure comes one day after the Ducks announced that offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Mark Helfrich was promoted to succeed Chip Kelly as head coach.
Bennett has come close to transferring several times, notably after he lost the job in the fall. Bennett announced that he would stay with the Ducks program, saying he “couldn't leave his troops behind” and that “we are all family.” Bennett made the announcement after his 11th-hour meeting with Ducks former head coach Chip Kelly.
Freshmen Jeff Lockie and Jake Rodrigues remain on the UO roster behind Mariota after red shirting last season, along with walk-on senior-to-be Dustin Haines. Oregon is reportedly making a strong push for junior college's Tanner McEvoy, as well.