Not many people get to live out a dream, especially in college football where starting positions are so hard to come by. For this reason, Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett feels like the luckiest guy in the world, especially playing quarterback in Athens.
This won’t be the first time Bennett has taken a snap in the SEC Championship Game. He actually played a snap in the contest against LSU in 2019 when Jake Fromm had to come out for a play. It’s funny to look back at those times and realize how long Stetson has been in the Georgia program. To this day, he still remembers that play.
“When I saw Fromm go down, I just sprinted to my helmet, picked it up and I just felt this giant shock of lightning run through me. ‘I’m about to go into the SEC Championship Game!’ I wasn’t expecting that.”
It’s crazy how things play out, especially in this world where a starting quarterback can lose his job in a heartbeat or some savvy veteran finds his way into the rotation. On Saturday, Bennett will make his ninth consecutive start at quarterback for Georgia and his 37th overall game in the program. Not many folks had Bennett playing this much football when he arrived on campus years ago, but looking at it now, this team wouldn’t be playing for the SEC without him.
The young man from Blackshear has turned his performances into highlight reels this season, making defenders look bad whenever he scrambles outside the pocket for a 15-yard first down run or hits his receiver in stride for a 60-yard touchdown. The thing that stands out the most about Stetson is his ability to stay focused in the pocket, never letting the moment become too big for him. When asked what has changed for him over the course of the season, he answered in true veteran form.
“Well, you want to say that you prepare every week, whether you’re the starter or not, but that’s not really the case. I don’t know, I’d say that. Just the fact that I am the starting quarterback, and with that comes a different level of responsibility, different level of expectations. And just being able to handle all those, knowing what’s important and what’s not, not cluttering your mind, and just being prepared for a battle.”
One thing is certain, Bennett is not comparing who both Georgia and Alabama have beaten this season. He knows he can’t be worried about past performances from his own team or his opponent, especially in a game of this magnitude. Finding confidence by beating one opponent by more points than the other doesn’t matter. It’s about what lies ahead, and that’s Alabama.
“Football is such a crazy sport, and there’s so many different aspects that go into an individual game that determine a score or anything like that. It really has no basis for how a future game’s going to go. Everybody in this league has great players, especially in college ball. Different teams come out different weeks, not just us or Alabama, but the teams we’ve played. So you don’t put any relevance on those scores or anything like that.”
Alabama will definitely be a different type of test for Bennett, as their defensive front is bigger and stronger than any team they’ve played so far this season. But these type of things don’t seem to faze the veteran quarterback, who has led the Bulldogs to their first undefeated season in over 25 years. At his core, Bennett is a young man who just enjoys playing the game of football. He has mentioned before that he comes from a high school that maybe had one other player go on to play college football. So I promise you, he’s not taking anything for granted as he prepares to play in another SEC title game.
The simple answer to what drives Stetson Bennett to be successful is the fact that he doesn’t take anything for granted any time he steps on the field on Saturdays. There’s no telling how long this will last for the quarterback, and that’s how he approaches the game. If you ask him what’s been his standout moment during his time at Georgia, you’d be surprised to know it’s not one single play or game that he can look back on. It’s just playing ball.
“I’m the luckiest guy in the world. I think just the coolest thing, if you just break it down, is just being able to play football. I love the game. I love the sport. I love what it allows communities and people and all those things, it allows all of them to do, to come together and be a part of something bigger than themselves.”
So, as he walks onto that field Saturday afternoon to play in another SEC Championship Game — this time as the starting quarterback for Georgia — there will be one thing on his mind as he takes a minute to look around the stadium:
“I think I’m the luckiest guy in the world to be able to do that and to be able to do it at an institution that is as fine as the University of Georgia.”