Stetson Bennett wasn’t supposed to be Georgia’s starting quarterback in 2020. He wasn’t even supposed to be the backup.
But a number of circumstances out of Bennett’s control, along with one in his power — his play — have set him on course to start for the No. 3 Bulldogs when they play at No. 2 Alabama on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on CBS. He’s far from the most known player in college football, but a meeting with the Crimson Tide sets him up for a quick shot into the public’s consciousness if he leads Georgia to a road upset.
Here are five things you should know about Bennett heading into the regular season game of the year in college football.
1. Bennett left Georgia as a walk-on, returned with a scholarship
The first time Bennett arrived at Georgia in 2017, he was a preferred walk-on from Pierce County (Ga.) High School. Bennett ran the scout time in his first year with the Bulldogs, and even got praised for it leading up to the College Football Playoff. Behind Jake Fromm and the newly signed Justin Fields heading into 2018, though, Bennett felt he might be better off elsewhere.
Bennett wound up at Jones County Junior College in Mississippi. He started all 12 games there, going 10-2 and throwing for 1,840 yards and 16 touchdowns. Bennett wasn’t without offers after that season — he hadn’t been without offers in high school, either. But Georgia again presented itself for the local kid after Fields transferred to Ohio State. Bennett returned to Georgia, this time on scholarship.
2. A surprise starter
Bennett didn’t enter the 2020 season as the starter. First, Wake Forest transfer Jamie Newman opted out of the season. Sophomore D’Wan Mathis started the opener, but a sluggish game against Arkansas (8 of 17 passing, 55 yards, one interception) prompted Kirby Smart to bring Bennett out after halftime. A 20-for-29 passing, two-touchdown performance helped Bennett lead Georgia to 32 points in a 37-10 win.
That play also earned Bennett his first start of his Division I career a week later, against Auburn. He went 17 for 28 for 240 yards and a touchdown. Coupled with the strong Bulldogs defense, Bennett earned his first win as a starter, too. That was enough to help Bennett keep the starting position, including over former five-star recruit and USC starter JT Daniels. Bennet and Georgia followed that up with a win over Tennessee ahead of the Alabama game.
3. An early-season Heisman contender?
Bennett enters Saturday’s game against Alabama with the fourth-best Heisman odds in the country, according to SportsLine. He’s behind only Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, Ohio State quarterback Fields and Alabama quarterback Mac Jones.
The most common method of winning the Heisman involves quarterbacking on one of the country’s best teams. Putting up big numbers alongside that role is the next biggest thing, though, and that’s where Bennett currently is lacking when compared to those first three. Bennett has yet to top 250 yards passing in a game and isn’t a big rusher — he would have to start piling up touchdowns, at least, to move up this list. But beating Jones and Alabama on Saturday would certainly help the potential climb.
4. A Georgia Bulldog legacy
There’s a lot of legacy involved with Bennett. The first is in his name: Stetson Fleming Bennett IV. Then you’ve got both of his parents, who attended Georgia’s pharmacy school.
Bennett’s family also has history in college quarterbacking. His grandfather, Buddy Bennett, played quarterback at South Carolina. Buddy also coached on a national champion East Tennessee State team, and coached defensive backs at Tennessee.
5. They call him the “Mailman”
Bennett attended recruiting camps in high school with a U.S. Postal Service hat on. That prompted former Miami running back DeeJay Dallas to give Bennett the nickname, the “Mailman.” That moniker prompts the idea that Bennett “always delivers” — just like a mailman.
There’s a ways to go before Bennett becomes the most famous person known by that nickname, though. That honor would go to former Utah Jazz forward and Hall of Famer Karl Malone. There aren’t any photos of Malone balling out in a USPS hat, though, that’s for sure.
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