When Kaiden Bennett decided to transfer out of Boise State, his two finalists were Nevada and Sac State.
Bennett opted for the Wolf Pack over the Hornets back then, but after entering the portal again earlier this month, Bennett is moving from Nevada to his original runner-up, Sac State. Bennett's decision to transfer to the FCS school was first reported by MaxPreps' Chris Roat before being confirmed by Bennett's father, Derek, to Nevada Sports Net on Wednesday morning.
"I am so grateful for Kaiden's support during my tough times fighting cancer," Derek told NSN. "He put family first when leaving Boise, even gave up a scholarship to be here for his family. Our family is extremely grateful for the time he spent at Nevada. Excited for him and his new start."
Bennett landing at Sac State is not a surprise given the team's head coach (Troy Taylor) and assistant head coach/offensive line coach (Kris Richardson) were the previous two head coaches at Folsom (Calif.) High, where Bennett played his prep ball. Bennett is originally from Sparks and was zoned to play for Reed High but opted to transfer to Folsom, where he put up dazzling numbers under Richardson.
Bennett led Folsom to back-to-back CIF Division I state championships during his junior and senior seasons. He completed 497-of-708 passes for 8,912 yards to go with 121 touchdowns against 18 interceptions as a two-year starter. He also rushed for 2,137 yards and 38 touchdowns. During his senior season, Bennett accounted for 4,822 yards and 75 touchdowns. As a junior, those figures were 5,649 yards and 73 touchdowns.
A three-star recruit, Bennett picked Boise State over offers from Utah, Cincinnati, UTEP, San Diego State, New Mexico, UConn and Nevada. After his first fall camp at Boise State, Bennett transferred to Nevada, citing homesickness. Derek Bennett recently told NSN that decision actually stemmed from Derek's cancer diagnosis.
"The real reason he left Boise is because I was diagnosed with cancer," Derek said. "When he entered the portal the first time, he didn't entertain any other school but Nevada and accepted a walk-on position to be here closer to me and his mom. I have had surgery and am cancer free now, so he would like the opportunity to play in an offense that suits his style of play better. One that has designed QB runs and allows him to use mobility."
Since Bennett is transferring to an FCS school, he does not have to sit out this season under NCAA transfer rules. Being at his third college in less than a year, Bennett still has four years of eligibility remaining. In Taylor's first season as Sac State's head coach, the Hornets went 9-4 overall, 7-1 in the Big Sky and reached the second round of the FCS playoffs, a 42-28 loss to Austin Peay. The team finished the season ranked in the top 10 in both FCS polls. Sac State had gone 2-8 overall and 0-7 in league the year prior.
The Hornets recently lost quarterback Kevin Thomson via transfer to Washington. The reigning Big Sky offensive player of the year entered the portal last month and landed with the Pac-12 school, where he'll be eligible to play immediately as a grad transfer. Thompson began his career at UNLV before transferring to Sac State, where he threw for 3,216yards and 27 touchdowns last season. He also rushed for 619 yards and 12 scores.
Bennett will be the fifth quarterback on Sac State's 2020 roster, joining juniors Jake Dunniway, Jayden Machado and Tristan Meyer and freshman Yaro Duvalko. Dunniway is the favorite to win the job after completing 43-of-72 passes for 582 yards with five touchdowns and three interceptions last season.
Nevada's current top option to back up Carson Strong, Hamish McClure, started his career at Sac State before transferring to the Wolf Pack for the 2019 season.