Georgia football-Stetson Bennett-national media
041622 Athens: Georgia wide receiver Arik Gilbert (14) celebrates after scoring a touchdown with quarterback Stetson Bennett (13) during the G - Day game at Sanford Stadium Saturday, April 16, 2022, in Athens, Ga. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Georgia football quarterback Stetson Bennett still not getting recognition from national media

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Georgia football quarterback Stetson Bennett still not getting recognition from national media

The college football offseason is perhaps best defined by its list. Top however many coaches, X most exciting non-conference games, etc. It’s the perfect type of analysis to appease our appetite without getting too deep into the weeds

The latest example was 247Sports Top 25 quarterbacks for the 2022 season. The top of the list was filled with your usual suspects. Bryce Young of Alabama, CJ Stroud of Ohio State came in at No. 1 and No. 2.

A little further down the list were the likes of Miami’s Tyler Van Dyke and Cam Rising of Utah, who had strong finishes to the 2021 season and seem poised to build on them in 2022. Near the bottom were the likes of Jaxson Dart, Quinn Ewers and Anthony Richardson, who are all unaccomplished yet have intriguing upsides due in part to their physical tools.

Not on the list, or really any preseason list for that matter is a quarterback who threw 29 touchdowns to just 7 interceptions last season. Said quarterback was the offensive MVP of the Orange Bowl. He followed that up by completing his final four passes of the National Championship game for 83 yards and two touchdowns.

That quarterback is Stetson Bennett. Like those listed above, he returns for another season. Yet instead of embracing the idea that Bennett can once again improve — as he did from 2020 to 2021 — most seem to want to anoint more heralded options over the starting quarterback for the defending National Champions.

“I also don’t think I’m as good as I’m going to be, and I don’t think this team is as good as it’s going to be,” Bennett said in March. “It’s about the daily grind, the daily competition … where do we want to be next week. Where do we want to be tomorrow. It’s those little goals.”

Consider that 247Sports’ list had Spencer Rattler at No. 8 in their rankings. Rattler was benched at Oklahoma last year, but because of his 5-star ranking as a prospect and fresh start in South Carolina, there seems to be a desire to overly hype Rattler.

If you remove his game against Western Carolina, Rattler had six touchdowns to five interceptions last season while playing in Lincoln Riley’s quarterback-friendly offense. Bennett also bested Rattler in yards per attempt, 10.0 to Rattler’s 7.9.

Much has been made this offseason about how Bennett will have to do more in 2022 because of all that was lost by the Georgia defense. That is partially correct, as Georgia had five players from the unit taken in the first round of this past draft.

While the unit routinely gave Georgia strong field position, Bennett also proved capable of creating explosive plays. Georgia ranked in the top-10 in the country in plays of 20-plus yards and 30-plus yards a season ago.

And unlike the defensive side of the ball, many of the key pieces on offense return. Kendall Milton and Kenny McIntosh seem primed to have big seasons out of the backfield. The offensive line could be even better than it was a season ago, as Georgia is strong at both tackle spots and center with Sedrick Van Pran.

Bennett also gets to throw to perhaps the most loaded tight end room in the country, with Brock Bowers returning and Darnell Washington, Arik Gilbert, Brett Seither and Oscar Delp all in line to contribute.

If Georgia’s wide receivers are able to stay healthy, this offense has a chance to be the best offense of the Smart era. And this is an offense that averaged 38.6 per game last season.

“We want to score points,” Smart told Paul Finebaum earlier this month. “To do that you have to have skill players who can make plays. We think we’re in a good position to do that.”

Related: Kirby Smart expresses confidence in even better 2022 Georgia offense

Bennett made it clear after the spring game that he wasn’t going to have to be a superstar for Georgia to be successful. That’s something built into the Georgia system. You could say multiple players were the best on Georgia’s defense last season, which is how Smart likes it.

Except the same to be true on the offensive side of the ball this year. It’s a big reason why Georgia won the National Championship a season ago.

“Do I think I need to be better than last year? Yeah,” Bennett said. “Do I think that I’m going to need to go out there and win every single game? No, it’s still the University of Georgia. We’re still going to have great players, we’re going to have great o-lines, great backs, great backers, great d-line and great DBs.”

Related: Georgia football quarterback Stetson Bennett after G-Day: ‘I’m going to be better than last year’

Bennett wasn’t just left off 247Sports’ list. USAToday didn’t have among the top-10 quarterbacks for next season. In ESPN’s 100-day countdown for the 2022 season, Bennett’s name did not come up once.

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