ATHENS — Carson Beck has taken things one step at a time at Georgia in his four-year climb to the top.

The same toughness and resiliency that enabled Beck to stick it out and wait his turn behind J.T. Daniels and Stetson Bennett in Athens has been on display throughout the Bulldogs’ 12-0 season

Likewise for Beck’s skills, which have blossomed quickly under the bright lights of SEC Saturdays.

Just as Beck has applied the same pattern recognition and methodical decision making that enables him to solve Rubik’s Cube to his ability to process fronts, coverages and get through progressions quickly.

Alabama figures to provide the greatest challenge to Beck when the Tide plays Georgia at 4 p.m. on Saturday in the SEC Championship Game.

Beck and Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe have taken center stage in the lead-up to the game, each finally garnering some Heisman Trophy discussion.

Fact is, many in the national media have been behind on reading Beck, with much of the attention earlier this season being paid to quarterbacks at fallen programs like Colorado and USC.

But those who follow the SEC most closely, like former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow, recognized Beck and talked him up much earlier this season.

“He might not have the same experience that Stetson Bennett had, but this kid’s talent is even more,” Tebow said. “This kid has a big-time arm. One of the things that’s really special about him is his anticipation and touch.”

Georgia coach Kirby Smart tried to tell people about Beck before the season started, and how he could have led the team to the past two national titles.

“Carson Beck could have been our quarterback that entire time,” Smart said in August. “And he learned from that.”

Smart’s praise fell on mostly deaf ears, as many UGA fans had preconceived notions that neither Beck nor Mike Bobo could adequately replace Bennett or former OC Todd Monken.

Those concepts seem laughable three months later, as Georgia football sits here 12-0 and ranked No. 1 with the No. 2 third-down conversion rate in the nation and the No. 6 total offense.

Even Smart concedes Beck and his offense could be putting up even more glaring numbers.

“The worst thing for Beck individually is he plays with a good defense,” Smart said. “It makes you not want to sit there and just run it up. Some of these other guys, they get an opportunity, they have to score 40 a game.

“With Carson Beck, I don’t think we as an offensive staff think we have to score 40 a game … so you’re able to call the game differently as an offensive coordinator.”

Smart noted a lot of growth from Beck when Daniels, who went 7-0 at UGA and is now at Rice, was sorting through the offense with Monken during the 2020 season.

“People just keep forgetting that he was here with J.T. Daniels, so he sat in meetings with J.T. and Monk when they would go back and forth about what the read is, what we’re looking at, how we’re doing it,” Smart said.

“J.T. was a really bright quarterback, and Carson sat in those meetings, heard him, and then as J.T. moved on, he got to sit in and listen with Stetson and hear him talk and learn things.”

NFL scouts are taking note of Beck’s decision-making anticipation and arm talent.

“All of this stuff is so good from Beck, you’re seeing pre-snap reads, post-snap reads, you’re seeing leverage throws, you’re seeing ball placement,” FoxSports analyst Joe Klatt said during a recent breakdown on Beck on the ‘Breaking the huddle’ podcast.

“Georgia is scary moving forward in large part due to the fact that their quarterback is playing elite level football.”

Beck has been the first to admit the Bulldogs didn’t look as impressive or as consistent at the start of the season.

“We’ve taken huge strides in the running game and the passing game,” Beck said after silencing the Tennessee fans in Neyland Stadium before sending them home early in a 38-10 win.

“The biggest thing is how comfortable we are with each other.”

It was going to take time with Beck as a first-year starting quarterback, but the fact top receiver Ladd McConkey missed the first four games and leading rusher Daijun Edwards was out the first two added to that adjustment period.

The Bulldogs converted receiver Dillon Bell to play snaps at tailback, and a walk-on Cash Jones has emerged as the third-leading rusher on the team and caught double-digit targets.

Right about the time the offense was clicking, All-American tight end Brock Bowers was injured and missed the first two games of the second-half of the season.

Beck blossoms more each week as the team around him gets healthier and gains strength, most recently helping UGA get past Georgia Tech in a tricky rivalry road game under the lights.

These Bulldogs have done big things winning back-to-back national championships and setting records for consecutive victories.

But Georgia has never beaten Alabama in an SEC Championship Game in Atlanta, not even in the 2021 CFP Championship season.

Now it’s Beck’s chance to make history.

“When I made my decision to come here, I knew at some point when I did have my opportunity that we were going to have the chance to play in big-time games like this on a big-time stage,” Beck said.

“Obviously super excited and stoked for the opportunity and challenge that awaits us.”

It’s the next step for Carson Beck.