Kirby Smart reflects on Stetson Bennett's journey from walk-on to national champion
Kirby Smart and the Georgia Bulldogs won the national title in 2021 — the school’s first since 1980. And, they didn’t need a 5-star quarterback to get the job done.
No, former walk-on Stetson Bennett IV was the one who wrote his own Hollywood script last fall, taking control of the Georgia starting job and never letting go.
During SEC Media Days, Smart spoke with the SEC Network’s “Marty and McGee” and reflected on Bennett’s incredible college career:
From walk-on to national champion ??
Kirby Smart reflects on the remarkable story of his QB, Stetson Bennett. pic.twitter.com/l5bAZH6sKv
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) August 16, 2022
“I think about the first time I ever saw him when he came on an official visit and he was a walk-on,” Smart said. “I think about his 2 parents who were so proud of him and they had so much confidence. Every parent loves their kid, right? But they were convinced this young man was special and was going to be a great player. We didn’t even reward him with a scholarship. We just asked him to walk on.
“There was a little something different about Stetson. If you go back and look at the quotes from 2017 and we’re getting ready to play Oklahoma and he played Baker Mayfield (on the scout team), that’s all the kids talked about. Stetson Bennett came on the radar when they said, ‘Man, we’ve got this little guy that they call the Mailman that’s killing it on the scout team.’ It made you think there might be something here to this guy.
“Now, he wasn’t getting enough reps. He wasn’t a starting guy. He goes to Mississippi, comes out of Mississippi after playing a really good year and played for his championship at the junior college in Mississippi, and still had to come back to Georgia. There still weren’t a lot of people beating down his door, now. Let’s be honest, he probably wouldn’t have come back to us (if there was more interest).
“He came back with a scholarship and even then, he wasn’t the guy. He came and knocked on my door, ‘Coach Smart, what do I need to do to get more reps? I’m going with the 3s, coach. I’m not getting to go.’ We’re talking about 2 springs ago. … He earned it. He did it the hard way and the kids believe in him.”
Does Bennett have more to add to his story this fall? We’ll see if he can lead the Bulldogs back to the Playoff once the 2022 season starts in a few short weeks!