Stetson Bennett will succeed in the NFL if people keep telling him he can’t

Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Stetson Bennett (13) Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Stetson Bennett (13) Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Stetson Bennett has made a football life out of doing exactly what people tell him he can’t do, and he’s already hearing he can’t make it in the NFL.

We all know the story by now. Stetson Bennett has been told by everyone for virtually his entire college football career that he isn’t good enough. Not good enough to quarterback for the Georgia Bulldogs, not good enough to win the SEC, not good enough to win a National Championship.

Not good enough, not talented enough, not big enough, over and over and over again.

But Stetson Bennett proved them all wrong, over and over and over again.

Now Bennett is being told he isn’t good enough to play professionally in the NFL. You’d think people would have learned by now, if you want Stetson to accomplish something just tell him he can’t do it.

So the question is, when others in the same circumstance fold and give up, what makes Stetson Bennett IV walk in the opposite direction and look to prove his doubters wrong?

Stetson Bennett is a special breed. Human nature is to take criticism negatively and for some, it adversely impacts their performance or worse still gives them a reason to give up.

Not for Stetson Bennett and those like him. They use this as fuel to drive them on to greater things. From walk-on to QB1, from SEC Championship to National Championship. Stetson wants to prove everyone wrong. Including his coaches.

The term “chip on his shoulder” goes back to a bygone age and refers to someone who was looking for a fight. But today is most associated with athletes and those who have a point to prove and are driven to achieve great things by criticism or a feeling of disrespect. Or certainly greater achievements than their detractors believe they are capable of.

This is the situation that Stetson has found himself in almost constantly during his time in Athens.

I read an article today that suggested that if Stetson was 6’3″ and not 5’11” that he would be a first-round draft pick. What!? What is an athlete to do with that kind of commentary? This is a player who has just won back-to-back National Championships, was named a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, won the Burlsworth award, and has seen Georgia football, SEC, and NCAA records tumble game after game in his name.

But instead of finding the nearest dark corner to hide in, Stetson uses the doubters’ words to drive him even further forward.

Stetson Bennett has a similar story arc to another former SEC quarterback

In professional sports, Stetson is not alone. With perhaps few exceptions all athletes will experience negativity throughout their careers. It is those that take the criticism and move forward and those where success comes after. Take the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback, Jalen Hurts whose comparison to Bennett is spookily similar.

Hurts won two National Championships despite being benched during those two Championship winning seasons. He too was criticized for being undersized and as a player who liked to use his feet to get him out of trouble, Hurts wasn’t what most NFL head coaches were looking for.

But yet, as we see currently Hurts is a player in great form and one of the best quarterbacks in the league. Had Hurts crumbled in that 2017 National Championship game when he was benched he would never have made it to Philly to play for the Eagles.

Stetson could, should — and probably will — do exactly the same thing in the NFL. As I have all too often read, so too will Stetson have noticed the comments from professional writers about him being a “good backup”, “worth a punt” or worse still “undraftable”. Not exactly glowing references from the draft analyst community.

Many find Bennett to be a polarizing character. His confidence can be misconstrued as arrogance. But this confidence is what every high-level athlete requires to make it to the top of the game.

Ahead of the Peach Bowl, Bennett was asked by the media about the chip on his shoulder. Stetson was confident in his response, that it wasn’t a chip he carries, but rather that he wanted to make it to the top of the game.

"“It’s hard to describe, but I don’t think of it that way, right… I just want to be the best I can be” Bennett said ahead of the Peach Bowl. ” I love football, and I want to play football. Hesiman ceremony was a huge honor. That’s not why I play, you know. So that’s not going to change the way I play.”"

I would be willing to bet that many took the comment about being the best, as being the best in College. But you know I think Stetson wants to be the best in football.

No other player that I have written about receives as much reaction when my article is published as Stetson Bennett, and I am sure this one will be no different. But you know what? The more I hear from Bennett, the more I know he has what it takes to get to the top.

Of course, it’s all about the scheme and fit in the NFL so it depends greatly on where the Mailman lands. But as the experts keep on telling us, Stetson isn’t going early on in the draft. This means that there will be no pressure on teams or Georgia’s best-ever quarterback to deliver from day one. So time is on his side.

Bet against it after two National Championships? You might, but I won’t.

Next. A Glimpse Into Kirby and Stetson's Relationship. dark