Stetson Bennett Returns To California, This Time As The Starting QB, Not Mimicking Baker Mayfield

It was six years ago that Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett was running the scout team, trying to prepare his defense for Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl. Crazy how time flies, right? Now, the former third-string QB returns to the Los Angeles area for an opportunity to win his second national title.

We all remember that game at the Rose Bowl, with Georgia defeating Oklahoma in a college football classic. But what a lot of people don't remember is the 19-year old mimicking Baker Mayfield in the practices leading up to that game. At the time it was all about preparing his defense for what was to come from a potent Sooners offense, but now Bennett gets the opportunity to lead his own team on the West Coast.

“I was 19 (years old), I really don’t draw too much on that experience,” Bennett said last year about the experience. “I was really young, no expectation of playing, absolutely none. My only focus was to get the defense ready.”

Bennett found himself back in Athens after transferring down to JUCO football, working to make it back to Georgia. This was always his dream, leading his beloved Bulldogs to a national championship, which he achieved last season.

The story of Stetson Bennett is one of a guy who did not let outside noise dictate his life path. Look where we are at the moment. Georgia has only lost one game in the past two seasons, Stetson Bennett continues to come up with ways to beat teams and the Bulldogs are one win away from going back-to-back.

Sign me up as a guy who didn't believe Bennett could be the guy to break passing records at Georgia. I'll certainly admit when I was wrong, and this is the perfect example.

A Hollywood Ending For Stetson Bennett, Georgia

As I've mentioned numerous times, Bennett's story will be made into a movie one day. To think that six years ago he was Baker Mayfield in practice and now he's preparing with his team for another title opportunity, it's obvious why Kirby Smart calls him 'Cool Hand Luke.'

“It’s his mental disposition,” Smart told the media this week. “I think he doesn’t think of the moment any different than the first quarter from the fourth quarter. He doesn’t feel that. He is a processor. He’s a deep thinker. He just goes through the process of what he’s going to do and doesn’t let it affect him.”

Bennett has shown over these last few years that the moment doesn't overwhelm him much, or at least he doesn't show it. Always centered, Kirby Smart mentioned that Bennett doesn't lack the confidence, while staying collecting in the moment.

“He’s never real real high or real real low, which I think is a great trait for a quarterback,” Smart said. “And I think that helps him in the fourth quarter to be able to go execute. He has a lot of confidence. I think his coaching staff does a great job preparing him to be in those moments.”

So now it comes down to doing it again, winning another championship with his team and driving the doubters wrong, again. The once scout team quarterback could leave Georgia with a few school passing records and rings, which even Kirby Smart would privately tell you he didn't expect to happen just two years ago.

Whether you like him or not, you at least have to respect him. On Monday night, Bennett will walk into SoFi Stadium looking help his team win another big game, just as he did in 2017 working on the scout team.

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Trey Wallace is the host of The Trey Wallace Podcast that focuses on a mixture of sports, culture, entertainment along with his perspective on everything from College Football to the College World Series. Wallace has been covering college sports for 15 years, starting off while attending the University of South Alabama. He’s broken some of the biggest college stories including the Florida football "Credit Card Scandal" along with the firing of Jim McElwin and Kevin Sumlin. Wallace also broke one of the biggest stories in college football in 2020 around the NCAA investigation into recruiting violations against Tennessee football head coach Jeremy Pruitt. Wallace also appears on radio across seven different states breaking down that latest news in college sports.