Champions Without Laurels: Who Is Stetson Bennett?

Last week, at ProFootball, I wrote a special about one of the second-tier quarterbacks in the draft: Hendon Hooker. In it, I try to shed statistics to better understand the invisible side of the sport. Why isn’t Hooker, a potentially talented passer, rated high, and how does that affect him?

Stetson Bennett’s narrative is very similar, but more extreme. By the way, Georgia’s products would hardly have received any texts on this site if it hadn’t been for a sudden shift towards the end of his career. After a lot of coming and going, he’s a college champion in 2022, which puts him back in the discussion of a possible pick in the draft.

From possible nobodies to champions, Bennett managed to get his name out there anonymously, but he’s far from getting any recognition. The odds of being the No. 2 pick are even slim. After all, what is the anatomy of this remarkable name?

Come and go, reach the top

It’s not always the time to say goodbye. Bennett’s college years can be summed up in that sentence. He was recruited by Georgia in 2017, spent a year on the bench, and his future prospects aren’t much better — after all, he was preceded by Jack Fromm and Justin Fields. He then dropped out of college to pursue tenure at a smaller program in Jones County.

The quarterback seemed destined never to get the chance to do what he loved so much. Stetson started playing football with his father at age 3, and by age 12 he was part of an amateur team that competed in minor national championships. He started out as a passer and a secondary, and later specialized in the offensive position.

However, their destinies once again intersect. With Fields on the move next season, Georgia hopes to have Bennett back in 2019; at that point, backing Fromm. Maintaining a strong mentality and not giving up is crucial to getting started exercising. After battling JT Daniels for the title in 2020, he finally managed to win it the following year.

That’s when Stetson showed up. He became an extremely efficient quarterback on the back of Jalen Carter’s stellar defense, scoring close to 70 total touchdowns (passing + rushing) over those two years. Earlier in the year, the top players won games on the strength of their offensive performances.

So why is Bennett so underrated?

What is the value of success?

In the NFL, the bar is high. I’m not even talking about height here, which is one of Bennett’s problems; at just 6-foot-11, unlike Bryce Young, he’s not otherwise great. In the strong recruiting of the class, Stetson doesn’t even give himself the right to be so promising, as other names are straight to the title but have high potential, such as the aforementioned Hooker and Will Reeves. Plus, the same amount of time that allowed him to regain his college success is important to him now that he’ll hit the recruiting age of 25, after all.

Bennett is not a bad player. He’s smart on the field, wins often, is efficient at short/mid range, and he’s not technically a “lock-up” passer. However, nowhere near a professional level; aside from the general grind, he mostly lacks the physicality and stronger arms to get to the back of the field.

However, its future is not tragic. Today, Stetson is in enough shape to be an excellent backup in the league. After so many ups and downs, his solid career shows that he has some character and leadership traits that can be very valuable to a team. Plus, you never know when you’ll need a solid replacement, so this is an important job opening.

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That’s even why Stetson takes recruiting seriously. Sure, it’s still a low pick, but many teams will be scratching their heads not wanting to lose him at the end of Day 2/start of Day 3. A name that matters in the dressing room and is always there to do a decent job when needed on the pitch.

If his college success wasn’t enough to catapult him to stardom, Bennett still has a lot to work on in the NFL. That example, by the way, was his own career, and when he left Georgia in the first place, all seemed lost. Stetson is a man who knows how to start over when he needs to prove himself. Time to do it a second time.

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