Say it out loud: Stetson Bennett is a national champion! It is a story of extreme perserverance in the face of long odds. As the Georgia Bulldogs became the College Football Playoff National Champions, one fan had a box-office seat, leading their team to victory. It was the first national championship for the Bulldogs in 41 years and just as it was a long time coming for them, so it was for their quarterback too.
Stetson Bennett: A quintessentially American story
Stetson Bennett grew up a Georgia Bulldogs fan and got a chance to play for them in 2017. He did not receive a scholarship from them and therefore played as a walk-on. He received one scholarship from Middle Tennessee State but chose to play for the university that both his parents had also attended and where he had dreamed of playing since he was a child. In 2017, he remained as a backup to Jake Fromm.
In 2018, he moved to Jones County Junior College as Justin Fields joined the Georgia Bulldogs program, coming in as a five-star recruit. His performance there commanded attention as he threw for 16 touchdowns in 12 games and threw for 1840 yards.
In 2019, he was back with the Bulldogs, this time on a scholarship but still as a back-up Jake Fromm. In 2020, Stetson Bennett was listed behind D'Wan Mathis. Even after he replaced Mathis due to poor performances during the season, the Bulldogs would bring in JT Daniels from the University of Southern California.
The status quo remained into the 2021 season, but JT Daniels' injury misfortune finally opened the door for Stetson Bennett. Initially, even after the injury, he was not listed as the starter, but coach Kirby Smart saw something in him to make a last-minute call. In his first start against the UAB Blazers, he threw for five touchdowns, tying the record for most touchdowns in Georgia history.
But his best came in the game against the Alabama Crimston Tide in this national championship game where he threw for two touchdowns, completing 17 of his 26 passes. At the end of it all, when he had won the whole lot, he was questioned on what he felt and what he would say to those listening. He said:
“I've told you all along, and I think some people maybe didn't believe me, that I really don't hear any of that stuff, the social media and whatever, I really don't... I hope it gives someone a little hope. Keep your mouth shut, work hard. Life is tough. Work through it."
It was the perfect fairytale for Stetson Bennett and who knows where his next steps would be? But with his history of proving his doubters wrong, one can be assured that he will make a success of whatever he does next.