Breakout players for 2013: No. 4

Quarterback Steven Bench worked his way up from fourth string to second string before the season, and could be the starter this fall. Lee Coleman/Icon SMI

During the next week, NittanyNation will count down the five Penn State players who weren't named to the All-Big Ten teams and are poised for breakout seasons in 2013.

The No. 4 breakout player: QB Steven Bench, rising sophomore

When he signed his letter of intent in February, he thought he would be coming in as the fourth-string QB -- behind Matt McGloin, Paul Jones and Rob Bolden. That dynamic quickly changed.

Bolden transferred before the season, Jones quit during the season and McGloin is set to graduate. That makes Bench the most experienced quarterback heading into the spring, and that means it's his starting job to lose.

Recent juco commit Tyler Ferguson (Bakersfield, Calif./College of the Sequioas) will push him, but this could be a breakout season for Bench. His father said he dreamed of playing college football on a big stage -- and this is his chance.

He showed O'Brien enough to surpass Jones on the depth chart after about three months on campus, and his work over the offseason will go a long way in determining whether Penn State can pick up right where it left off or if next season is a struggle. Bench is a smart QB with a compact throwing motion, and the smarter QB -- Ferguson or Bench -- will likely become QB1.

ESPN's scouts called him "a bit of a sleeper," and NittanyNation think he might be poised for a breakout season.

Quotables: "Steve's really come a long way. ... I told him he's going to have to battle to win this job. I know they're going to bring in some other guys and he'll have to compete, but he's really come along." - McGloin