Georgia has a number of key players to replace and the Bulldogs will use spring practice to help determine who is best equipped to do so.
After this past week’s NFL combine, it’s very clear Georgia has a number of elite players to replace. In addition to Nolan Smith and Darnell Washington, there are All-Americans Chris Smith and Jalen Carter.
But according to ESPN’s Tom VanHaaren, the toughest player to replace for Georgia will be starting quarterback Stetson Bennett.
“This very well could have been defensive tackle Jalen Carter or any of the defenders departing, but Bennett guided Georgia’s offense to two national championships and was a Heisman finalist, throwing for 4,127 yards and 27 touchdowns -- while running for 10 more -- in 2022,” VanHaaren wrote.
Bennett had a standout performance at the NFL combine, greatly helping his NFL draft stock. As was often the case, he was at his best when he absolutely need to be. Bennett made clutch plays in Georgia’s biggest games against Ohio State, Tennessee and Oregon.
“I don’t know if Stetson knows this, but I walked in, my 10-year-old son, Andrew, is bawling. I’m, like, oh, no, somebody’s hurt his feelings; somebody’s thrown him down or done something to him,” Smart said after the national championship game. “I said, why are you crying? You’re going to ruin my moment. He said, ‘(crying) Stetson is leaving. He’s going to go.’
“I said, ‘he’s 25 years old. He’s got to go. He’s got to leave.’ But he’s bawling about Stetson being gone, and most of our team, we’ll have a lot of guys coming back. We’ll lose some really talented guys.”
Georgia brings back three quarterbacks in Carson Beck, Brock Vandagriff and Gunner Stockton. None have started a game at Georgia, but Smart feels confident in all three options. Beck is the most experienced of the bunch, yet he’s thrown just 58 career passes.
In addition to a new quarterback, Georgia will have a new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Mike Bobo takes over for Todd Monken, who is now the offensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens.
Bennett spoke well of Bobo at the NFL combine.
“I think he helped with some stuff upstairs, but I didn’t really interact,” Bennett said. “I love him as a person, but as far as coaching and stuff like that, didn’t really talk to him.”
Georgia will take to the practice field on Tuesday for the first of 15 spring practices. The Bulldogs will wrap things on April 15 with G-Day. Bennett will participate in Georgia’s Pro Day on March 15, as he continues to prep for the 2023 NFL Draft. Mel Kiper Jr. sees Bennett as a fourth-round pick.
Stetson Bennett talks Georgia football at 2023 NFL Combine
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