Georgia football-Stetson Bennett-2022 season
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 goes into detail about his decision to return to Georgia for 2022 season

Of course, in terms of actual football-related events, it’s also the first time in Bennett’s storied Georgia career he enters spring practice as the starting quarterback. No longer is he the flip-phone underdog — he’s ditched it for an iPhone — but the top quarterback option for Georgia as it continues spring practice.

That’s just part of the reason Bennett elected to return to college for his sixth season, five of which have come at Georgia.

In 2017 he was a lightly regard walk-on. Then came a year at Jones Community College. In 2019 he returned as a backup. In 2020 he was a fourth-string quarterback. It looked like he was once again set to be a backup in 2021 before taking over for the oft-injured JT Daniels.

Related: Stetson Bennett announces his plans for 2022 Georgia football season

Bennett proceeded to throw 29 touchdowns last season, making key plays for Georgia late in the National Championship win over Alabama. Bennett threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes to atone for the costly fumble he had earlier in the final quarter of the season.

After a hilarious interview with Good Morning America and a whirlwind of a celebration, the quarterback then took the next few days to evaluate his future and what that might look like. He could’ve ridden off into the sunset or declared for the NFL draft.

Instead, he went with his heart and returned to Georgia.

“There was a bunch of private conversations that we won’t go into, but it was more so just, you know, how we’re going to do this year,” Bennett said. “I wanted to hear what coach Smart had to do. I just wanted to know, you know, for me as it was time for me to be a little selfish while I was making that decision. And then now, I’m all aboard.

“So I wanted to hear a few things, and he told me -- some of them were what I wanted, some wasn’t. They were closed-door conversations, but in the end I thought that for me I wanted to come back and play football at the University of Georgia.”

Within minutes of each other, Bennett announced his return and Daniels entered the transfer portal. The path to starting became much more clear.

Bennett knows he won’t be handed the starting quarterback job, as he points out that if there is someone better than him, said person will start. Georgia also has Carson Beck, Brock Vandagriff and Gunner Stockton in the quarterback room as well.

To this point though, Bennett has done enough to prove he’s the top quarterback option for the Bulldogs. He made significant strides from the quarterback we saw in 2020, and it’s fair to wonder why he can’t do the same again in 2022.

He’s getting more reps now than he has in years past. That’s going to give him the opportunity to work on some areas that he and Smart both agree he can improve.

“He’ll be the first to say he didn’t play perfectly,” Smart said. “You want to take out some of the ‘bone-head’ throws, some of the ‘bonehead’ mistakes that he sometimes makes. It’s easy for him to say he hasn’t had an opportunity to correct those mistakes because the guy was taking threes at this time last year. He wasn’t getting a lot of reps.

“He got a lot of work fast, and we feel like he is still showing progress. He’s done some really nice things this spring, but that should be expected for a guy with his experience level.”

Related: Championship mindset: Kirby Smart explains his daily approach as Georgia’s head football coach

Bennett was asked in his Tuesday press conference what he hoped to gain from this coming season. He led Georgia to its first national championship in 41 seasons and did so as the starting quarterback. It’s the highest of highs in the game of football, one that is equally cruel.

Bennett understands that as well as anyone. He’s gone from walk-on to JUCO to backup to starter to backup again to championship-winning quarterback. He knows that’s how football is sometimes.

It’s why he loves the game. And ultimately, that love is the biggest reason Bennett is back playing quarterback for the Georgia Bulldogs.

“I love football. I love this team. I love the relationships, all the things that it teaches you,” Bennett said. “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 isn’t done with the game of football just yet. He knows he can still get better. And there’s an inner belief that he and Georgia can once again win a National Championship, even if it might not match how it happened the first time.

“Shoot, why does anybody who’s ever won something do it again? Because it’s cool,” Bennett said. “So, let’s go do it again. Let’s see if we’ve got what it takes.”

Stetson Bennett explains his return to Georgia

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