MIRAMAR BEACH, Fla. — Kirby Smart was making the case for walk-ons this week as talk turned to a new proposal that would reduce rosters to as few as 85 or 95 players.

And how could he not?

The Offensive MVP of both of Georgia’s national championship football games was former walk-on Stetson Bennett, whose rags-to-riches journey from fourth-string to Heisman Trophy finalist and into the NFL continues to evolve with his return to the Los Angeles Rams for a second season after a season away.

RELATED: Rams GM shares story of Stetson Bennett’s absence

“I was home,” Bennett told the Associated Press this week, breaking a media silence that dated back to when the Rams placed him on the reserve/non-football illness list after training camp last fall.

“As far as what led to that, what transpired and all that, I think we’re going to keep that in-house. But it was good. I went back home, and thank goodness (general manager) Les (Snead) and Coach McVay allowed me to do that.”

The 26-year-old Bennett said that his time away had to do with mental health, just as Rams general manager Les Snead had said earlier this month.

It’s a mesmerizing Cinderella story, to be sure, with football fans pulling for the undersized underdog at each turn.

Bennett, himself admits he felt “a lot of nerves the first day” of the Rams offseason program, but “it has gotten better each day, just like you try to make it.”

But what if there had not been a roster spot for Bennett to start his journey as a walk-on?

It was a hot topic at the SEC Spring Meetings this week at the Hilton Sandestin Beach Resort as school presidents, athletics directors and coaches gathered to sort through the numerous issues challenging collegiate sports.

Smart, who led the discussion in the coaches’ room at the meetings, pointed out there have been others who have risen from walk-on status to greatness — and for that matter, players who earned a final scholarship spot that in today’s world would surely have gone to a more capable, and readily available transfer.

Smart, himself, once received a final open scholarship after cornerback Steve Johnson flipped to Tennessee on signing day, opening up a spot that Ray Goff used to bring Smart into the program.

“We’d have found a spot for you,” Goff told Smart at the time.

But in today’s landscape? Perhaps not.

“When you look at Dabo Swinney’s career, Will Muschamp’s career, you look at (former undersized redshirt) Ladd McConkey,” Smart said.

“You look at guys that have come to schools and then gone on to be successful football players, successful football coaches, successful at everything they do, they overcame the ultimate odds. I don’t know anybody who would be against having those walk-ons.”

Bennett’s story, and the incredible interest in his career that has continued to follow him, is a reminder of what sets college football apart, making it irresistible and relatable to so many.

Those walk-on opportunities, as Smart points out, are what keeps dreams alive for so many young players and keeps the sport of football growing.

“(Roster reduction) hurts high school football and football as a whole,” Smart said, “when kids can’t even dream about ‘what I might be able to do if I can’t get an opportunity.’ "

Georgia football, perhaps more than any other in the nation, would certainly have a different look.

Stetson Bennett (right, 13) is back with the Rams (AP /Dawgnation)