The story of Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett IV’s college football career is a Hollywood movie script in waiting.
Should Stetson Bennett steer the Georgia bulldogs to a second consecutive National Championship victory in — of all places — Los Angeles, the former walk-on quarterback with a made-for-Hollywood story will finally get the credit and redemption he deserves.
The well-documented rise of Georgia’s unlikely hero has been the subject of features on ESPN and other networks. It’s hard not to be amazed at what Bennett has accomplished.
ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit recently commented on Bennett’s story in a National Championship Game media call.
"“You could honestly write a movie script on his story. It’s been a lot of fun to watch this guy against all odds proving everybody, including his own coaches and his own fans, wrong to the point of potentially winning back-to-back national titles. I’ll never forget what he’s done and how he had to prove people wrong along the way."
This sums up nicely the situation that Bennett finds himself in, that he is on the cusp of Athens immortality. Dawgs fans talk of Matthew Stafford, Aaron Murray, and Jake Fromm as Georgia greats. Older fans recall fondly Eric Zeier, David Greene, and Buck Belue — the only other living quarterback to lead the Dawgs to a title — and rightly so, as they are true greats of football in Athens.
But to date, only Belue and Bennett have a National Championship ring. To have two must surely send Bennett into the stratosphere and to the top of the tree.
To get to the top of the game you have to be great although great on its own isn’t good enough. The greats are different, a different breed. NFL scouts call it the “intangibles”. While Stetson might not make a great NFL quarterback (although let’s be honest, these days who can tell who will and who won’t be a success in the NFL) there is no question about Bennett’s intangibles. He is a different breed.
Offensive coordinator Todd Monken recognizes this, and, given Monken’s track record in college and the NFL, he should know what he is looking for. Unsurprisingly Monken has been asked this week about Stetson a lot and what makes him different. Monken had this to say about his quarterback at Media Day for the National Championship Game.
"“My favorite moment… is the series we had against Alabama last year after he fumbled. We unloaded on the shots and specials and he handled it and we went right down the field and scored. That says who he is. Not everybody’s capable of making a mistake and then, a little bit like last week, you know, the interception led to 21-7 and, okay, we battle our way back and get ourselves to where we’re actually leading and then score before half.”"
Irrespective of what others think about Bennett, the Georgia quarterback has a quiet inner belief. Some see it as arrogance, others unshakable confidence. But there is no doubt that Bennett is more confident in himself this year, he no longer feels the need to justify his presence.
As such he is more at ease with himself, the fans, and the media. We are witnessing the evolution of Stetson Bennett IV.
Despite his unshakable confidence, the game in SoFi is his last game in a Georgia uniform so there must be a whole gambit of emotions going on inside his head. Maybe there is but you wouldn’t know as Stetson was pretty humble when asked about his feelings at Media Day.
"“I think it’s the National Championship. Regardless if I had years left or, you know — I don’t, but it’s the National Championship. It’s the last one of the year. It’s the big one. It’s why we were doing this winter workout so hard. It’s what we dreamed about it when we were kids. I don’t think really me leaving has anything to do with how hard I’m preparing.”"
The public perception has changed this year about Bennett. And it’s not just last year’s National Championship win. The Georgia offense has stepped up this year and is driving the Dawgs’ championship campaign.
In 2021, the offense was perhaps unfairly cast as the supporting act to a generational Georgia defense. That is not the case this year. And there is no doubt that Stetson is driving the bus. He is the leader. As a leader, he takes the plaudits and the criticism.
One thing is sure, Whether it’s in one week or one month, or ten years from now, Georgia football fans will be talking about Stetson Bennett as one of, if not the best to play quarterback in Athens. Perhaps even the greatest Bulldog of all time.
What a Hollywood ending that would be to Bennett’s Georgia career. I can’t wait for the movie.