ATHENS — Carson Beck is arguably the most highly touted Georgia quarterback entering a season in history with 2024 approaching.

Beck is widely projected as the top pick in the upcoming NFL draft, the top returning passer leading the preseason No. 1 ranked team as the Heisman Trophy favorite.

Beck, as much as he can, seems to be taking in stride, acknowledging “there’s a lot of noise and extra stuff” circulating around the UGA program, while stating that he “loves the pressure.”

Fact is, Beck has an elite supporting cast around him and an experienced play caller in Mike Bobo who has mentored and called plays for previous UGA No. 1 NFL pick Matthew Stafford and SEC all-time leading passer Aaron Murray.

What Georgia doesn’t have is a deep history of Heisman Trophy recognition, the most recent winner coming in 1982, when Herschel Walker brought home college football’s most coveted individual award.

Times have changed since then, to the extent Beck realizes he doesn’t need to carry an offense like Walker once did to bring home the Heisman Trophy.

“It’s 100 percent a team trophy, because obviously as a quarterback my success is very much dependent on the offensive line,” Beck said,

“(and) it’s very much dependent on how our running backs play, it’s very much dependent on if our defense can get stops, it’s very much dependent on if our wide receivers can go make contested catches and get open.”

And it’s very much dependent on Georgia’s won-loss record, as previous Bulldogs’ quarterback Stetson Bennett proved.

Bennett, a two-time national champion and four-time CFP Offensive MVP, finished as the first UGA quarterback to be named a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2022 despite not earning first-team All-SEC honors, as selected by the league’s coaches or Associated Press voters.

Beck had a front-row seat for Bennett’s timely plays and championship performances, having been beaten out for the opportunity when starter J.T. Daniels went down with an injury.

Beck has since said he wasn’t ready for his opportunity, which came in Week Two against UAB when he opened game week No. 1 on the depth chart before Bennett out-performed him in the practices leading up to the game.

Bennett threw four touchdown passes in the first half of the win over the Blazers and Beck threw a Pick-6 after entering, making the so-called “Mailman” the choice when Daniels was injured again in Game Four against Vanderbilt.

“I was just not ready….,” Beck said, last year, looking back on the 2021 season. “I got the chance to play in the game, but I was not in the right headspace mentally, and I was not locked in on the game at all.

“When I went in, I was not confident at all. When I went in, I felt like I didn’t know how to play quarterback just based on everything that had happened, and that’s when I knew I totally just missed that opportunity.”

To Beck’s credit, there would be no transfer

Georgia coach Kirby Smart contends Beck could have just as easily led the Bulldogs to the 2021 CFP Championship.

“The interesting thing about Carson that people don’t talk about is that there was a time when he was the two in our first national championship run and Stetson was the three,” Smart said. “Stetson only took reps with the threes. We play Clemson, Carson’s the two.

“We’re getting ready to play UAB, right at the end of the week, coach (Todd) Monken came to me and said, ‘Hey, look, I think we gotta go with Stetson here. I think Stetson gives us a better chance to win. He’s played a little better this week …. it went on to happen where Stetson never looked back, played for two years, but Carson Beck could have been our quarterback that entire time.”

But now it’s Beck’s time — and Georgia’s time — and there’s a very real chance the Heisman Trophy could be waiting.

Fox Sports Heisman Trophy Odds

  • Carson Beck: Georgia, +800
  • Quinn Ewers: Texas, +900
  • Dillon Gabriel: Oregon, +1000
  • Jalen Milroe: Alabama, +1400
  • Will Howard: Ohio State, +1500
  • Jaxson Dart: Ole Miss, +1800
  • Nico Iamaleava: Tennessee, +1800
  • Garrett Nussmeier: LSU, +2000
  • Cam Ward: Miami (Fla.), +2200
  • Riley Leonard: Notre Dame, +2500