Stetson Bennett IV-Georgia football-UGA football
Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett IV led the Bulldogs to the national championship on January 10, 2022, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Jeff Sentell / DawgNation)

Stetson Bennett: ‘It has gotten easier,’ being No. 1, closed-door meetings with Kirby Smart

ATHENS — What a difference a year has made in the life of Stetson Bennett, who has done more than just ditch his flip phone and add a national championship trophy.

Bennett, a 24-year-old, sixth-year Georgia quarterback, is going through spring drills knowing he’s the No. 1 quarterback and getting the reps that indicate as much.

All that hasn’t stopped Kirby Smart from challenging Bennett to grow as a leader, go to class and avoid what Smart refers to as “bonehead” decisions under center.

But being the No. 1 quarterback helps Bennett take the daily criticisms in stride, and with a marketing deal with the high-profile Everett Sports Marketing group, carry himself with a renewed swagger.

Stetson Bennett is indeed in demand, and he has worked hard to earn every bit of it

Consider, a year ago at this time, Bennett was the No. 3 quarterback behind starter JT Daniels and previous No. 2 quarterback Carson Beck.

Bennett is the first to admit, there’s a difference in how he approaches things as the starter.

RELATED: Todd Monken lets boosters know, Stetson Bennett is Georgia’s No. 1 QB

“You’d like to say that you always prepare to be the guy, and you always work the same that you would,” Bennett said. “But we’re all human and you’re kind of like, ‘jeez sometimes it seems like I’m not going to play at all.’ "

That’s how Bennett felt last summer after exiting 2021 spring drills buried on offensive coordinator Todd Monken’s depth chart.

So, Bennett said, he went to Coach Kirby Smart and made it clear how he was feeling about not getting enough reps to compete.

RELATED: Todd Monken behind Bennett, admits he ‘undervalued’ him last year

“It was a tough decision, probably one of the hardest that I ever made,” Bennett said last season, sharing after the Arkansas game that he considered not returning to Georgia. “It was tough and, at the end, I broke it down and I decided to stay.”

Bennett had another decision to make after the CFP Championship Game, revealing during his Good Morning America interview that leaving Georgia was once again a possibility for him.

Bennett said he wanted to see if he “can trust the decisions made” by the UGA staff.”

RELATED: Bennett questions future at Georgia on national TV show

Bennett and Smart were asked on Tuesday this week what conversations took place that led to Bennett staying for another season.

Smart downplayed the exchanges, but Bennett, who is known for his blunt, direct approach, was more transparent.

“We had a couple of conversations, just in passing,” Smart said. “He reached out a couple of times and said he wanted to come back. He wanted to continue to get better. There wasn’t a lot there. There weren’t a lot of questions or anything.”

Bennett’s take on the conversations came across differently.

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