Stetson Bennett Recalls The Battle To Be A Starter At Georgia, Even When The Coaches Were Against It

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Time has come again for Stetson Bennett to silence the keyboard critics and lead Georgia to another national championship. Sure, we’ve seen the Bulldogs do this before, defeating Alabama last season in their rematch to hoist the CFP trophy. But for Bennett, he continues to be the kid from Blackshear, Georgia who is living out a dream that some didn’t think could happen.

There are critics all across the country who didn’t think Bennett could be the guy to lead the Bulldogs into this phase, even some on Kirby Smart’s coaching staff. The journey for Stetson Bennett has been something out of a movie, even though the young man doesn’t let the outside noise effect his play.

But there was a time when Stetson Bennett was the third-team quarterback searching for an opportunity to prove himself, even if the coaches weren’t all-in on the idea. The idea that the Georgia coaching staff was looking at every other option besides Bennett isn’t far-fetched.

Georgia Coaches Not Seeing Stetson As A Starting Quarterback

As crazy as it sounded to him, Bennett realized that these coaches would have to play the best guy if they wanted to keep their jobs. Although it might sound awkward to some, hearing the quarterback just shoot it straight, he certainly wasn’t wrong.

“They tried a lot. But I didn’t let it bother me. I did realize after 2020, and I hated them, and I was like screw you guys, blah, blah. But after that, maybe it was after I started playing in 2021 and after UAB, I was like, you know, they are going to play the best player,” Bennett recalled. “They’re going to play the best player. Their job is to win; if they don’t win, they’re going to get fired. They’re making a lot of money right now, and they don’t want to get fired.”

ATHENS, GEORGIA – NOVEMBER 05: Stetson Bennett #13 of the Georgia Bulldogs celebrates after a touchdown against the Tennessee Volunteers during the first quarter at Sanford Stadium on November 05, 2022 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

He soon realized that the coaches couldn’t overlook who was playing the best, emerging from the dark and forcing the coaching staff to play the former third-stringer.

“So, I was like, let’s play. After that, I’m like, as long as (it’s) the best player, they’re going to play me, right? It wasn’t like opinions or feelings; all I had to do was be the best player, and I was going to play.”

You don’t hear that often from a starting quarterback, especially one with a national championship already in the trophy case. But, Stetson hasn’t been the type to shy away from how he’s feeling, it’s being comfortable to say it now.

The 2021 Game Against UAB Was The Launching Point

The 2021 season was supposed to be the year that JT Daniels claimed his spot as the leader for Georgia. Turns out, there was going to be a wrench thrown into the equation. After suffering an injury that caused Daniels to miss a few games, it was time for Stetson Bennett to grab the brass ring. Many thought he would just be a placeholder for Daniels, but the quarterback from Blackshear never let go of the starting spot.

Stetson Bennett #13 of the Georgia Bulldogs meets with head coach Billy Napier of the Florida Gators after their game at TIAA Bank Field on October 29, 2022 in Jacksonville, Florida. Georgia won 42-20. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

It was the UAB game where Stetson Bennett finally found his ‘nuts’, as he put it.

“The biggest thing about UAB, first of all, it gave me some nuts. I threw like 11 plays, threw like five touchdowns—I never had a game like that in my life. But it wasn’t the stat line or anything like that. I kind of figured that was an outlier, but the biggest thing was when I went back and watched the tape, I could see my motion. Yeah, that was what I was working on.

“That’s what I wanted to do, and it showed up,” Bennett recalled. “That’s how it was built. It wasn’t like we beat UAB by a million. But if that’s right, then yeah, I can play.”

The Goal Is To Continue Playing Football After Georgia

If fans thought that Stetson Bennett would ride off into the sunset after his college career at Georgia was over, you’d certainly be wrong. Now, I am certainly not saying that Bennett will go on to play in a Super Bowl or be a starter in the NFL for the next 10 years.

The playmaker is hell-bent on making it at the next level, pointing out that somebody will have tell him that he can’t cut it at as a professional.

“I will not be making the call to cut off my football career unless my leg gets cut off early. That will be someone else’s call.”

If Stetson Bennett and his teammates can win on Saturday night in Atlanta, they’ll be one win away from a repeat. Some kids only dream of playing in games like this, especially at the school they dreamt of playing for.

But for Bennett, he’s been living out his dream since stepping on the field in Athens. Finishing his collegiate career with two national championship rings would, well that story would’ve been hard to envision just two years ago.

Written by Trey Wallace

Wallace started covering the SEC in 2012, as the conference landscape was beginning to change. Prior to his time in Knoxville, Wallace worked in Nashville for The Read Optional, where he first produced content that garnered national attention. His passion for sports is evident in his work and has led him to break some of college football’s biggest stories. His social media reach and natural podcast proficiency continue to make Wallace one of SEC’s most trusted sources.

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