Outback Bowl Football

South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley runs for yardage against Michigan during the second half of the Outback Bowl. AP Photo/Chris O'Meara

Jake Bentley's football leadership skills have been on display since he arrived on the University of South Carolina campus. Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp raves about the junior quarterback at every opportunity, lauding his skills on and off the field.

The Southeastern Conference is lauding, too. Bentley on Thursday was named the winner of the SEC's Sportsmanship Award in a vote by the league's 14 athletic directors. Bentley was honored for "the compassion he showed a fellow but opposing quarterback in a 2017 game at Tennessee" during the Gamecocks' win in Knoxville.

With South Carolina ahead 15-9, Tennessee's Jarrett Guarantano led the Volunteers to the two-yard line with nine seconds left at Neyland Stadium. But the freshman threw three incomplete passes to end the game.

As the Gamecocks celebrated, Guarantano sat near the sideline. Bentley went over and offered solace.

"It's just one game," Bentley said.

“Jake is a great ambassador for the team and the Athletics Department, consistently representing South Carolina at events and in the media with poise, personality and grace in victory and defeat,” South Carolina Athletic Director Ray Tanner said in a statement. “After each game, he makes it a point to seek out the other team’s quarterback, to share specific conversation among his counterparts around the SEC as they share a brotherhood at one of the most scrutinized positions on the field.”

SEC softball teams collectively were named winners of the women’s SEC Sportsmanship Award for their show of support for Mississippi State student-athlete Alex Wilcox who is currently undergoing treatments for ovarian cancer.

The list of SEC Sportsmanship Award winners:

2018: Jake Bentley, South Carolina (Football); SEC Softball Teams

2017: Ole Miss and Vanderbilt Baseball Teams; Tate Schroeder, Missouri (Tennis)

2016: Leonard Fournette, LSU (Football); Lloydricia Cameron, Florida (Track & Field); Kentucky Volleyball Team and Support Staff

2015: Texas A&M Men’s Basketball Team & Support Staff; Aleighsa Welch, South Carolina (Basketball)

2014: Missouri Football Team; Tennessee Men’s Basketball Team; Georgia Equestrian Team; SEC Women’s Golf Coaches

2013: Tennessee and South Carolina Football Teams; Maho Kowase, Georgia (Tennis)

2012: Matt Walters, Arkansas (Tennis); Joanna Mather, Florida (Tennis); Laura Eddy, Georgia (Soccer)

2011: Louis Day, South Carolina (Track & Field); Ole Miss Softball Team

2010: Rodney Scott, Ole Miss (Football); Sam Arbaugh, South Carolina (Softball)

2009: Dorian Ulrey, Arkansas (Track & Field); Alabama Women’s Tennis Team

2008: Chris Lofton, Tennessee (Basketball); Jessica Yadloczky, Florida (Golf)

Gene Sapakoff