ATHENS — When some people go home for Thanksgiving, they’ll run into old pals or flames from high school at the local bar.

Nick Saban will be doing the same in some sense when he sees former Alabama quarterback commit Carson Beck line up under center for the Bulldogs.

Beck was initially committed to Alabama as a member of its 2020 recruiting class. He ultimately backed off that pledge before ending up at Georgia. Alabama signed Bryce Young as its quarterback in the 2020 recruiting cycle, so Saban likely doesn’t regret the choice he made when it comes to the position.

But the Alabama head coach has a clear understanding of how talented Beck is.

“I think he does a really, really good job of executing their offense,” Saban said on Sunday. “He doesn’t make very many bad reads. He throws the ball in the right place. He’s very accurate with the ball. He throws it on time. He understands their offense very, very well. Executes the play that’s called and distributes the call correctly, almost flawlessly.”

In his first season as Georgia’s starter, Beck has looked every bit like a quarterback that was coveted by both representatives in the SEC championship game. Beck has thrown for 3,495 yards and 22 touchdowns compared to just 6 interceptions.

He’s a big reason the Bulldogs are in position to win back-to-back SEC championships and possibly a third national championship.

Beck though is focused far more on winning and being a part of his first championship. He’s watched the last two as Stetson Bennett’s backup, with Bennett going 1-1 in the game. He lost against Alabama in the 2021 SEC Championship Game.

“When I made my decision to come here, I knew that at some point when I did have my opportunity that we were going to have the chance to play in big-time games like this on a big-time stage,” Beck said. “Obviously super excited and stoked for the opportunity and the challenge that awaits us.”

Beck understands matching up against the Alabama defense will present a difficult challenge for Georgia. Be it edge rusher Dallas Turner or star freshman Caleb Downs, both players have plenty of talent and ability to make Beck’s life difficult on Saturday.

Georgia knows that, as it recruited both players when they were highly coveted prospects, as was the case with Beck.

“They’re passionate about the game of football,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “They love the game of football. They love to play the game of football, and those kind of kids are your favorite kind to coach. They’re in there every day with a bright eye. They’re taking notes. They love to play the game, and you see that on tape out of both those guys, both very, very elite football players.”

Saturday will be Beck’s toughest test to date as Georgia’s quarterback. He’s excelled so far as Georgia’s quarterback and isn’t anxious about going back and seeing Saban or his talented defense.

He’s actually looking forward to the opportunity of playing in Saturday’s game with a chance to clinch a spot in the College Football Playoff.

“Obviously it was definitely a work in progress as the season kind of started, but I’d say that South Carolina game,” Beck said. “after that second half kind of where we started to pick up steam, started to become a little bit more comfortable within the offense and with the players around me, and I think our confidence kind of shot up from there.

“We’ve been able to pick up steam as the season has gone along.”

Nick Saban raves about Carson Beck