ATHENS — Georgia briefly had four scholarship quarterbacks after the Bulldogs landed a commitment from UNLV transfer Jayden Maiava.
That lasted just over a day, as Maiava ultimately flipped that commitment from Georgia to USC.
So for now, Georgia will forge ahead with Carson Beck, Gunner Stockton and Ryan Puglisi as the three scholarship quarterbacks on the roster.
Smart spoke about his quarterback room following the Maiava flip and what it looks like moving forward.
“No, not really surprised. Nothing surprises me anymore,” Smart said in a radio appearance on 92.9 The Game in Atlanta. “It’s go with the flow, who can adapt best and take the information you’re given, take the opportunities to get players you’re given and make the most of it. That’s what we’ve done. I’m very pleased and confident.
“I thought Puglisi had a great set of bowl practices. We got to see him firsthand and go out and be the quarterback against the defense. I got to watch him throw and do things. I thought Gunner got valuable experience in terms of being able to get in the game and go play. That’s big. You’re always looking to have some depth in that room.”
Even if Maiava had stuck around, he would’ve been behind Beck.
After a stellar 2023 season, Beck announced he would be returning for the 2024 season. In his first season as a starter, Beck threw for 24 touchdowns passes while passing for 3,941 yards.
With a full season under his belt, Smart is eager to see how Beck continues to grow and help the Georgia program.
“I think it’s a huge momentum builder, gives a lot of confidence in the program that things are headed in the right direction,” Smart said. “He has enough confidence in us as coaches and as a staff to continue to lead and direct him in the right direction. It’s ultimately a business decision for him, and he’s looking at it as, can he grow and extend his NFL career by being a Georgia another year, therefore being more prepared for the NFL when he goes.”
While Beck will be losing his top two rushers, leading receiver and starting center, the Georgia offense still has plenty of talent around Beck, in large part because Beck elected to come back.
The Bulldogs have added three wide receivers via the transfer portal and brought in Florida running back Trevor Etienne. The Bulldogs also saw starting guards Tate Ratledge and Xavier Truss put off the NFL for another year to return to Georgia.
“There was no true right or wrong for him,” Smart said of Beck. “He made the decision that fit him best, and his long term goals are to play a long time in the NFL, and he wants to prepare a little more and win some games while doing it. It’s certainly big for us because it had a major impact, not only on recruiting but also the guys deciding to stay along with him.”
Stockton got his first real action at Georgia in the Orange Bowl win over Florida State. He completed 6 of his 10 for 96 yards and ran for an additional 46 yards.
Stockton and Maiava would’ve each had three years of eligibility remaining, making the battle for the back-up job interesting. Smart previously said he wants the quarterback room to be at four scholarship players, so we’ll see how Georgia goes about doing that moving forward.
But even if Georgia sits at three, as it did for the 2023 season, there is still plenty of talent in the room between Beck, Stockton and Puglisi.