Stetson Bennett weighs in on Hendon Hooker Heisman Trophy backlash: ‘I didn’t make that call’

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Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett poses for the Heisman Trophy with Max Duggan, CJ Stroud and Caleb Williams

NEW YORK — Stetson Bennett is used to being doubted and criticized. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that when he was named a Heisman Trophy finalist, there was anger by many in college football.

Many thought Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker should’ve gotten an invite to New York, as the expense of Bennett in particular. Hooker had 32 touchdowns this season while leading Tennessee to its first relevant season in some time. The Volunteers finished the season going 10-2, picking up wins over Alabama and LSU along the way.

Related: Stetson Bennett releases classy statement on being a Heisman finalist amid social media outrage

Bennett’s raw numbers don’t compare to that of Hooker and he knows that. He was quick to point out how great Hooker was in 2022, even with his season being cut short by an ACL injury in the loss to South Carolina.

Naturally, there has been a backlash to Bennett’s backlash, with many pushing back and pointing to Bennett’s excellence in games against ranked teams. Seventeen of 27 touchdowns this season came in five games against ranked foes, all wins. Bennett also outplayed Hooker when the two teams met in November.

Bennett wanted to take his time and praise the season Hooker had, instead of focusing on the controversy of the past week.

“I don’t think it’s fair to Hendon. He’s a great player,” Bennett said. “I don’t think it should be spoke of in that light. I think he should be getting respect for the year that he had and not what could have been but what was. He almost not singlehandedly but was a main factor in that program changing course, you know? That’s always silly to me.

“As far as me getting hate for it, it doesn’t bother me really. I didn’t make that call. So.”

The Georgia quarterback has been doubted at every turn, even by his own team. So a few tweets about why he shouldn’t be in New York don’t bother the unflappable, national championship-winning quarterback.

“I’d say it probably keeps me humbled. It’s almost more like a culture thing,” Bennett said. “I mean that in the way those thousands of not good enough that you talk about have kind of seeped into my brain. I’m not saying I’m not good enough, but saying, all right, you’re not there yet. Because I remember what it was like to not be there then and it did kind of suck. Now, it’s like we’re still not there yet, so we’ll keep going.”

Bennett and Stroud will play for something much bigger than the Heisman Trophy, as the Bulldogs and Buckeyes will meet in the College Football Playoff. The two teams meet in Atlanta on Dec. 31.

Stetson Bennett talks Hendon Hooker backlash at Heisman Trophy ceremony

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