Stetson Bennett is what the heart of Georgia football is all about

Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Stetson Bennett - Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Stetson Bennett - Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /

If you want to see what the heart of Georgia football looks like, look no further than Stetson Bennett IV.

Picture it. Jacksonville, Florida. Fall of 2019.

Nick Foles is injured and Gardner Minshew takes the field. The guy who stuck a fake mustache on Mike Leach at Washington State becomes the starting quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars as a rookie. His confidence, hair, and 70s mustache captivate the city and Minshew Mania erupts. And I roll my eyes. Because it’s the most Duval thing ever.

Fast forward a year. Georgia is preparing for the oddest football season ever. Grad transfer quarterback Jamie Newman opts out just weeks prior to the opener against Arkansas. Another transfer QB, JT Daniels, hasn’t been medically cleared.

So, D’Wan Mathis gets the start against Arkansas but struggles in his first live snaps since brain surgery over a year ago. Then the guy who was a fifth stringer and told he had no shot at the starting job three weeks ago gets put into the game.

And he wins. And he doesn’t just win because of the talent around him. He wins because he walked onto the field with confidence and nothing to lose. He took command of the offense, rallied the troops, and led the way to victory.

And the name Stetson Bennett IV began to get national attention.

The guy who once had to ask higher-ranked recruits to mention him to college coaches was now the starting quarterback for his childhood team. The guy who ran the scout team for that unforgettable 2017 team and modeled Baker Mayfield for the defense so they could help orchestrate that Rose Bowl comeback for the ages was now getting ready to play a top ten matchup in the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry between the hedges.

And then the guy nicknamed The Mailman in high school because of the old mailman hat he always wore won. Again.

And the Bulldog Nation went nuts.

How could they not?

The walk-on, scout team quarterback who loves the game of football so much that he transferred to a junior college just so he could play comes back to his favorite team as a backup to be told he doesn’t stand a chance at playing only to be named the starter in week two.

Forget Minshew Mania. This is Mailman Magic.

Because this isn’t just crazy. This is straight-up, Disney movie, sprinkled with pixie dust magical. And I’m totally here for it.

Because deep down at its core, there’s nothing magical about it.

No stroke of luck. No football fairy godmother. It’s hard work, grit, and determination. It’s a Cinderella story shimmering with sweat, tears, and infinite hope.

And it’s something that happens a lot at Georgia. The underdog working hard and never giving up until they’re one of the top dawgs on the team. People like Rennie Curran, Jake Ganus, Aaron Murray, Tae Crowder, and of course Hot Rod.

Players whose drive and passion for the game inspires everyone around them to be better. To do more. Players who give everything, going above and beyond requirements and expectations to prove that they deserve to walk onto that hallowed field. They deserve a shot to seize the moment and shine under the lights.

And this year that role belongs to Stetson Bennett IV.

He’s more than earned the opportunity. He waited patiently, contributed to the team any way he could, and made the decision to follow his heart even when that meant leaving his favorite team.

He then came back when they needed him, content to play the backup, and compete for the job next year. And when it didn’t look like that dream would come true a few weeks ago, he didn’t quit. Instead, he just worked harder than before, pouring his heart into the game he loves to play.

And his sacrifice and dedication paid off. When his number was called, Bennett was more than ready to deliver, because he embodies everything Kirby Smart wants in a player. He embodies everything that is Georgia football.,

Physicality. Dedication. Composure. Discipline.

There’s a reason discipline is last on the list. It forms the basis for the other three and can make up for a perceived lack of physicality.

If there’s anything Bennett has it’s discipline. Discipline to keep chopping no matter what. Discipline to attack the day even when his dreams looked out of reach. Discipline to realize that it’s not the size of the dog in the fight that matters. But the size of the fight in the dog.

Regardless of where he goes from here, Stetson Bennett IV has given us a memorable two weeks and a 2-0 record. It’s fitting that it comes at the hands of a quarterback who has a lot more in common with his coach than at first glance. Undersized, but with a heart and passion that can’t be measured. And really, that’s what matters most. Passion and love for the game.

The huge heart of Georgia football is easily found within the 5-foot 11-inch frame of Stetson Bennett IV.

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