Peyton Bender born to play quarterback
The first thing about new Kansas quarterback Peyton Bender that grabs the attention is the spelling of his first name. The inspiration behind it did not come as a surprise.
“My dad grew up watching the SEC and when Peyton Manning was at Tennessee he really liked him as a kid and he thought the name was unique, so he did, he named me after Peyton Manning,” Bender said. “I don’t think he knew I’d turn out to be a quarterback.”
Neither did Peyton himself. He said that pitching was what he did best as a youth, but he decided to concentrate on football after recurring elbow problems interrupted his development as a pitcher. He also played third base, where his famously quick release must have come in handy.
Bender left Washington State, where Mike Leach was his coach, for Itawamba Community College for a year.
“(Leach) told me he would have a spot for me if I did want to go back,” Bender said. “We left on good terms. I thought about it, but the decision my family and I made was that it would be best to go somewhere to get a fresh start.”
Bender spent most of his youth in Georgia, but the family moved to Florida, where he spent his high school years. He said he chose Kansas over an offer from Akron and then resisted a late charge from Georgia.
“They came in about a week-and-a-half before the December signing,” Bender said of the Bulldogs. “I just didn’t get the same feel from them that I got here and I didn’t think the opportunity would be the same as the one I would get here.”