Stetson Bennett returns to Georgia: What move means for Bulldogs’ quarterback room

The Georgia quarterback turned national championship leader returns for another year between the hedges.

Stetson Bennett returns for Year 5 with Kirby Smart and Co., fresh from leading the Bulldogs to their first national championship since the 1980 season. He is coming off a year in which he completed 185 of 287 passes for 2,862 yards and 29 touchdowns. with just seven interceptions along the way to lead Georgia to a 14-1 season.

Here’s the announcement from his Instagram Story, according to The Athletic’s Seth Emerson:

While his return gives Georgia a seasoned veteran and proven playmaker at the top position, it will also affect the Bulldogs’ quarterback room, which has already seen wear and tear with former USC transfer JT Daniels apparently like the exit.

With that, Sporting News takes a look at why Bennett returned to Georgia and what that means for the quarterback position going forward.

Why did Stetson Bennett return to Georgia?

If Bennett has any hope of making it to the NFL, the 2022 Draft would be a good time to throw his hat in the ring. This year’s quarterback class is generally considered weaker than last year’s, despite producing the likes of Liberty’s Malik Willis, Ole Miss’s Matt Corral, Pitt’s Kenny Pickett and Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder, among others.

That said, Bennett was probably never going to contend for a top draft rating alongside those players, so it doesn’t matter if he declared in 2022 or 2023, when quarterbacks like Alabama’s Bryce Young and others will get most of the attention. professional explorers. Bennett might simply want to produce more tape in an effort to produce better draft quality. Or the Blackshear, Georgia native may just want one more round with his home state team.

The introduction of NIL deals also makes it possible for Bennett to take financial advantage of his championship season, where in previous seasons he did not.

What does this mean for the Georgia quarterback room?

With Bennett returning for another season, Georgia has seven quarterbacks on its current roster. That said, Daniels reportedly went on the transfer portal, suggesting that the former five-star recruit and USC starter will no longer be a part of the equation going forward.

Following Daniels’ departure, the next most experienced quarterback on Georgia’s roster is Nathan Priestley, a rising redshirt youngster who hasn’t posted any stats since the 2019 season. Only two other quarterbacks (the freshman Brock Vandagriff and redshirt freshman Carson Beck) have some pass attempts outside of Bennett.

Beck played in four games in 2021, completing 10 of 23 passes for 176 yards and two touchdowns for two interceptions. He also played just one game in 2020, not recording any stats. Vandagriff, a true freshman in 2021, appeared in two games in 2021, attempting one pass all season (it was an incomplete pass). That said, Vandagriff has the highest pedigree of any quarterback currently on Georgia’s roster: The Georgia native and former five-star recruit was the No. 17 overall pick, the No. 4 quarterback and the No. 2 in the state of Georgia in the 2021 signing class, for 247Sports Composite Ranking.

Going forward, Beck and Vandagriff are likely to battle for the top backup position behind Bennett.

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Does that mean Caleb Williams won’t transfer to Georgia?

Georgia was considered a bleak candidate to land Williams, with early reports suggesting the Oklahoma freshman was eyeing Athens as a possible transfer destination. Daniels’ transfer out of the quarterback room may have given credence to such a move, but Bennett’s return complicates matters.

Smart has shown loyalty to starting quarterbacks in his six seasons at Georgia, most notably Jake Fromm in 2018. Smart stayed with the then-second-year quarterback that season after leading the Bulldogs to the Georgia championship game. college football the previous year; Georgia came close to winning its first title since 1980 in a 26-23 overtime loss to Alabama. (Interestingly, Alabama coach Nick Saban’s willingness to remove his starter, Jalen Hurts, in favor of Tua Tagovailoa is what carried the Crimson Tide to the national title that season.)

Regardless, many Georgia fans and objective observers wondered why Smart wouldn’t give freshman Justin Fields more playing time, the General Recruit No. #2 in the country behind only Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence. Fields played in 12 games as a freshman that season, completing 27 of 39 passes for 328 yards and four touchdowns, adding 42 runs for 266 yards and four other touchdowns. He transferred to Ohio State in the offseason.

All that to say: Smart is unlikely to replace Bennett at quarterback. That probably prevents Williams from transferring to Georgia, considering his main goal leaving Oklahoma is to go to school to prepare for the NFL.

What year is Stetson Bennett?

Bennett’s Georgia biography lists him as a senior for the 2021 season. Technically, he’ll be a redshirt senior in 2022 after making it through the 2017 season, a year in which he served as quarterback for the Los Angeles scouting team. Bulldogs.

It’s worth noting that, because the NCAA did not count the 2019 season against player eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bennett could technically return for a sixth year to Georgia in 2023, which would exhaust the final year of your eligibility. The NCAA grants players four years of playing time (assuming they play in four or more games in a season). Bennett has reached that low in each of his three years without a redshirt in Georgia.

MORE: Stetson Bennett converts fumble in fourth-quarter win Georgia will celebrate forever

How old is Stetson Bennett?

At 23, Bennett is a grizzled veteran SEC quarterback, but he doesn’t the gray-haired veteran. Surprisingly, Bennett is only the second-oldest returning quarterback in the conference, behind 24-year-old Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker.