Saturday, July 15, 2017

Friendly competition: Housemates Bender and Stanley vying for KU’s QB job

Competing quarterbacks Team Jayhawk quarterback Peyton Bender (7) and Team KU quarterback Carter Stanley (9) shake hands after the 2017 Spring Game on Saturday, April 15 at Memorial Stadium.

Competing quarterbacks Team Jayhawk quarterback Peyton Bender (7) and Team KU quarterback Carter Stanley (9) shake hands after the 2017 Spring Game on Saturday, April 15 at Memorial Stadium.


When Peyton Bender arrived in Lawrence as a challenger to Carter Stanley’s job as the starting quarterback at the University of Kansas, Stanley didn’t view Bender as an adversary. In fact, KU’s incumbent No. 1 QB welcomed the man recruited to possibly replace him with open arms.

The two competitors hit it off once Bender, a former Washington State quarterback, enrolled at KU in January. Both quickly discovered during the constant hours they spent together at Anderson Football Complex, through meetings, workouts and study sessions, that they shared similar personalities.

If anything, the quarterbacks became more friends than foes during the spring semester, even as they tried beating each other out for KU’s yet-to-be-announced starting QB gig. By the summer, they were living under the same roof.

Bender, who transferred to Kansas from Itawamba Community College (Miss.), credited Stanley’s approachable personality for helping them connect in the midst of going head-to-head.


Kansas junior quarterback Peyton Bender throws during the spring game, on Saturday, April 15, at Memorial Stadium.

“Carter’s a great guy. I feel like we clicked from the first day we met,” Bender said. “Just a genuine guy and he wants the best for the team, whether that’s him playing, me playing, whatever. We both want to win. So I feel like we’ve both got good chemistry and the fact that we’re in a competition, it’s not really me versus him. I just try and go out there and compete versus myself.”

While Stanley said a lot of people who hear about the arrangement are surprised, the duo began living in the same duplex following the spring semester, along with KU junior linebacker Hudson Hall. The three of them, as well as junior quarterback Keaton Perry, will move into a different house before the fall semester.

Had Stanley, who started the final three games of his redshirt freshman season and helped the Jayhawks topple Texas, been standoffish when Bender joined the team, it could have formed a rift, and potentially suppressed the positive momentum the program experienced entering David Beaty’s third season as head coach. Stanley took the high road, though, and both quarterbacks feel as though they have benefited from their congenial relationship.

Bender doesn’t expect their bond — or living situation — to sour as the competition heats up during August camp, when one of them is likely to be named the starter and the other the backup. He said quarterbacks at his other stops in college football always seemed to get along, too.


Kansas redshirt sophomore quarterback Carter Stanley pulls back to throw during the spring game, on Saturday, April 15, at Memorial Stadium.

“I think what it comes down to is what’s best for the team and it’s not for me to make the decision on who plays,” Bender said. “So I can’t hold a grudge against (Stanley) for a decision I can’t make.”

Neither outperformed the other enough during an evenly matched spring to earn the early distinction of No. 1 QB. Stanley said that likely fueled both he and Bender as they continued their offseason preparation the past couple of months.

“We work out together. We definitely do a lot of the things within this building together,” Stanley said. “We’re definitely around each other and we’re pushing each other 100 percent. We both realize it’s still a competition, still a starting job at stake, so we’re working hard, and obviously one man’s going to get it, but it’s been a good competition.”

Bender and Stanley will be seeing a lot of each other in the months ahead — on campus, on the road and at home. But they expect their alliance will ease any potential tensions to come.

“I think we’ve just hit it off from the beginning,” Stanley said. “From when I met him I think we’ve just been good friends and it’s been a good relationship.”


Jerry Walker 5 years, 4 months ago

"Neither outperformed the other enough during an evenly matched spring to earn the early distinction of No. 1 QB." -- Smith

Gaak...sputter...sppfftt. That has to be Keegan's reaction. He's named Bender as the Hawks starter and savior since the day he signed.

Humpy Helsel 5 years, 4 months ago

I think Jerry Jeff has a point there. The way I've read it, it has been a forgone conclusion on Bender being the starter before he ever enrolled at KU. Seems like it is a pattern as I'd make the same observation with the signing of Jake Heeps and the other guy before him whose name I can no longer remember. This article represent a more "up for grabs" situation which I think is closer to reality. The fact is, in our situation, regardless who the starter is opening day, with our offensive line somebody is going down sometime and another QB has to step up. It will be great when we finally have an incumbent who has proven himself and it his job going into the next season without question. We are nowhere near that. We are more in a who can perform and produce consistently in a real game, Big 12 situation. We may four guys in the red jerseys who can do that, and maybe none.

Bryce Landon 5 years, 4 months ago

I appreciate the selflessness of these two dudes in the midst of the QB competition. And I hope HCDB will make the right decision in whom to name the starter between these two.

Dirk Medema 5 years, 4 months ago

Definitely appreciate the selflessness, but also hope Starks isn't too much of an odd man out as the 4th QB. At least he should have strong team connections with the Louisianimals on the team and at WR in particular. The most encouraging thing there is just realizing how relational Coach Beaty is, expecting that it's passed along throughout the coaches and players.

Dirk Medema 5 years, 4 months ago

As much as Bender might not have separated himself throughout the Spring, it did seem like he had the better game in the end, and progressed towards the #1. It is a bit to be expected for a new guy coming into the program. He might not be the next Cam Newton, but should end up being an upgrade.

Generally speaking, that is recruiting at this point. I seem to recall hearing that it was Coach's message to the team going into off season conditioning. I'm going out to recruit your replacement. It's up to you to keep progressing, earning it, so you're not replaced.

Randy Bombardier 5 years, 4 months ago

This is as it should be. It was tragic that Daniel Sams who could have had one steller season as No. 1 in Manhattan but chose to transfer close to home where he ended up getting arrested in relation of a burglary that resulted in a homicide. Being patient is not easy for young guys. Being a team player when you're burning inside to play is tough. But, patience has its rewards. Sams was trying to get into the next level but when to go from playing Oklahoma to playing likes of Alcorn State your chances are not good. I think our guys know if you've got "it", it will show. If not, well we're getting an education and having a little fun along the way.

Although i really liked what i saw from Stanley would like to see a number of qbs have some playing time by design, not that we don't know who our starter is, but just to get our backups real time.

Brock Wells 5 years, 4 months ago

Good article Benton!

For what it's worth... my cousin's cousin (insert jokes now) is a member of the football team. I recently asked him his take on the QB competition. To paraphrase, he said Bender is probably going to get the first shot at starting. He said that Bender can make all the throws and he hasn't seen anybody be able to make the throws Bender can make since he has been there (which obviously isn't saying a whole lot given the talent but still encouraging).

As most posters have stated the LJW (esp. Keegan) has be high on Bender and we all take it with a grain of salt because of how badly we've been burnt in the past. Hopefully the past won't repeat itself and the LJW can graciously say "I told you so"!

Randy Bombardier 5 years, 4 months ago

Of course i want our quarterback to be able to make all the throws but i think what we need most is a gamer, a leader, a competitor. Hope Bender has that. I liked what I saw in Carter Stanley. He had that Reesing quality I thought. Guess, we'll see. Thanks for input, Brock.

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