Kent State
22
Final
39
(1) Georgia

WATCH: Georgia QB Stetson Bennett recaps transfers, championship title journey with Eli Manning in ESPN episode

Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett visited with Eli Manning during the Manning Passing Academy last summer and shared his walk-on tale with the former Super Bowl champ and Ole Miss legend for an episode of "Eli's Places" that premiers Monday on ESPN Plus.
ESPN Plus

ATHENS — Stetson Bennett transferred from Georgia because of Jake Fromm’s emergence and Justin Fields’ signing, and his return was sparked by Fields’ departure.

Bennett shared insight on his incredible journey from walk-on, to junior college and back to UGA where he won a national championship with Super Bowl champion and Ole Miss legend Eli Manning.

RELATED: Why the Heisman Hype is real for Stetson Bennett in 2022

“They had their guy at that time, and I saw that,” Bennett said, asked by Manning during his ESPN Plus show ‘Eli’s Places’ why he left after one season as a walk-on in 2017.

“I didn’t go to Georgia to be on the team, I wanted to see if I could start at Georgia,” Bennett said. “Once I saw that wasn’t going to happen, I thought, ‘all right.’

RELATED: Unfiltered truths of Stetson Bennett’s incredible journey

“I still thought I was good enough to play somewhere big, so that’s why I went JUCO instead of one of the smaller schools I had offers from.”

Bennett proceeded to lead Jones (Miss.) College to a championship game appearance in the junior college ranks in 2018 and was heavily recruited by then-Louisiana-Lafayette coach Billy Napier.

RELATED: Stetson Bennett shrugs off critics at SEC Media Days, Napier a fan

“I was all revved up and ready to go to Lafayette and then they called me,” Bennett said of his signing day call from Georgia. “I still thought I was good enough, and I could feel that in the back of my brain, so I ended up giving it another go.”

Bennett sat behind Fromm in 2019 and climbed from fourth-teamer to starter in 2020 after transfer Jamie Newman left the program before the season, transfer JT Daniels had not recovered from knee surgery and opening game starter D’Wan Mathis struggled in the first half at Arkansas.

RELATED: Heisman voter shares how Stetson Bennett can win trophy

Bennett seized the opportunity in 2020 before suffering a separated shoulder against Florida, and then he cashed in again in 2021 when Daniels was limited by recurring upper-body injuries.

“If I went to one of those schools and I started for four years and I tore it up, I’d always wonder “what if,” and I just didn’t want to have that. So I’m going to go give it my best shot, and if I’m not, I’m not, but if I am I am.”

RELATED: Bennett cements hometown legacy, celebrates in victory parade

Bennett also shared with Manning during this Omaha Productions episode, which premieres on Wednesday, why he chose to walk-on at UGA rather than accept a scholarship to one of the 12 or so smaller schools who had offered him.

“If I went to one of those schools and I started for four years and I tore it up, I’d always wonder “what if,” and I just didn’t want to have that,” Bennett said.

“So I’m going to go give it my best shot, and if I’m not (good enough), I’m not, but if I am I am.”

RELATED: Of course there’s no quit in Bennett, why he’s returning for 2022

Bennett, coming off a season that saw him win Orange Bowl and CFP Championship Game honors, ranks second in the SEC in QB rating entering the noon game with Kent State on Saturday.

The upcoming Eli’s Episode centers on walk-on quarterbacks and features Manning hilariously trying to mix in as a walk-on at Penn State along with his interview Bennett for approximately half of the show.

Georgia QB Stetson Bennett plays toss with Super Bowl champion and Ole Miss legend Eli Manning during taping for "Eli's Places" show on ESPN.
ESPN-Plus screen, Dawgnation

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