Carson Beck takes the reins today as QB1 for Georgia. There are so many things DawgNation needs to know.

“Grateful” might best describe it all.

The Jacksonville native was once described by his high school offensive coordinator as having Jake Fromm’s brain and a Matt Stafford arm. The guy who said that was from a multi-generational UGA family. He knew the level of hype that would come with that.

Former Mandarin High OC Toby Bullock said it anyway.

Nick Saban once wanted Beck as his quarterback. He was even committed to the Tide, but after he de-committed and chose Georgia the Tide still came after him.

The shoot-from-the-hip scouting comparisons often land on Joe Burrow with Beck. I’ve always felt the cerebral side of Beck’s game made Andrew Luck the better parallel. Just a twitchier Luck.

Beck was “Mr. Football” in Florida his junior year. That was when he led his school to its first state title. Beck threw 17 touchdowns to one interception in that march to the state title in Florida 8A football.

That came after an off-season where Beck was rocked by significant personal adversity. It was also his first year as the starting QB for the Mustangs of Mandarin High.

Beck let loose a throw in the state championship game folks still talk about. There were former NFL quarterbacks at that game. They said they wouldn’t have attempted that throw.

It was 2nd-and-9 from the 29-yard line. Mandarin led 30-21 with 10:53 left to play. Check out Beck’s junior reel below. The play will be the second clip.

That toss made it seem like he had a golden arch for an arm.

The big arm has always been there. He was clocked with a 91-mph fastball off the bump when he was 15. That serves as a reminder of when he was once committed to Florida to play baseball.

The Gators in Jacksonville were quite salty when he chose the ‘Dawgs back in 2018.

When asked about that state championship performance six months afterward, Beck was put to a reporter’s test. I wanted him to tell me everything he could about his five touchdowns in that game.

He broke out some paper and scripted it all out. The coverages. The calls. The checks. The adjustments. What the defenses were in and what they did. He put all those plays on paper in less than five minutes.

That was “Rain Man” level recall. He needed about one minute to cover each TD. He even went over the reasons those plays made the game plan. It was eerily robotic.

Think about that today while he’s launching rockets over Dooley Field. Beck’s football mind is as potent a tool as that howitzer on his shoulder.

He had to wait behind the son of an NFL head coach and defensive coordinator in high school. That’s why the wait in Athens behind Stetson Bennett IV wasn’t foreign to him.

He didn’t just wait his turn in Athens because of a “stick it through” mentality. He felt he had a real chance to compete and win the job.

Beck is an “ultra-competitive” person. That’s an essential part of his story. He wasn’t waiting his turn or biding his time. He was passionate about being the quarterback for Georgia. He still is.

But all of that’s all in the rearview now.

He hasn’t started a game since November of 2019. Now he’s the starting quarterback for the back-to-back national champs and the No. 1 team in the land.

The moment calls for a read not on what he’s done and the personal backstory, but on where he is today.

That’s even more intriguing.

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Georgia quarterback Carson Beck (15) during Georgia’s scrimmage on Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga., on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2023. (Tony Walsh/UGAAA) (Tony Walsh/Dawgnation)

Carson Beck: A trainer’s view of QB1 for Georgia football

Denny Thompson has been working with Beck since he was in the 10th grade. The Jacksonville resident is an accomplished QB trainer.

The list of his guys starting in college and the NFL would seem more like a measure of hubris than a reflection of his abilities so we won’t detail those dozens of names. Thompson’s path these days doesn’t seek to get his name out there anymore. He’s good.

He’s seen Beck throw more than 10,000 times. Easy. Probably 20K.

He’s been up to Athens and back a lot over the last month. Thompson was driving back to Jacksonville from Athens on Thursday afternoon.

He had a lot of insight about Beck this week. Perhaps the most interesting was just one simple word.

“Super grateful,” Thompson said.

It was him sensing Beck feels “an overwhelming appreciation for where he’s at” these days. He is very present at this moment to be the starting QB at Georgia.

“He realizes that is a very big deal,” Thompson said.

Thompson wanted to know what his demeanor was like this week. To gauge how he’s responding to the build-up.

“It was fantastic,” Thompson said. “I think the overwhelming feeling right now is he’s super grateful. He came to Athens for a reason and now he gets a chance to do something in college football that hasn’t been done in a long long time.”

“He’s grateful and locked in for that opportunity. He’s academically a senior now so it is just a whole different thing. When you look at the situation as a whole, he’s very well-prepared for not just this week but for a whole season ahead. There’s going to be a lot of expectations with a very good football team. People aren’t going to care about a lot of excuses. He’s not a new quarterback. He’s been there for a while.”

“He’s kind of locked in to be the starting quarterback at the University of Georgia. He’s thankful for it. He’s very calm right now but at the same time, he’s super excited to get out there and play as a starter finally in Athens.”

Those two go way back. Beck was at Thompson’s facility on mornings after high school games. They’d pore over the film to the point Thompson saw Beck was so plugged he had to politely end the session.

He had a life, a wife and a family to get to. He usually let things go for an hour past that point before he finally brought it up.

It was two spring practices ago when Beck went to Thompson and they made “two little bitty mechanical changes” during an exploratory session.

“Then he threw better than I’ve ever seen him throw,” Thompson said.

From that point on, his delivery and mechanics have been automated. It does look effortless with the way Beck uses his lower body so well. They talked about those tweaks this week in Athens.

Beck is locked into UT-Martin. That is the only thing on his mind. Not threepeats. Not 4,000 yards or 35 touchdown passes.

Thompson had a lot of nuggets about Beck. Weigh the ones below with the understanding the trainer has worked with many college and current NFL quarterbacks, including a Top 5 pick in the most recent NFL Draft.

We’ll rip through those in the same manner Beck will rack up completions this fall:

  • “I’m a little bit biased on that,” Thompson said when asked what Beck is capable of. “I think Carson is one of the most talented quarterbacks I’ve ever seen. The way he throws the ball. The command he has with a football and the command he has over an offense. Especially an offense he has been in for a while. My expectations of Carson are really really high.”
  • “We don’t talk about a number. We don’t talk about how we’re going to throw for this many yards or this many touchdowns or anything like that. The focus - and I know it is an old adage but it is true - the focus is on this Saturday. And after that, the focus is next Saturday. The focus is what have you got to do to win football games.”
  • “The reality is they are going to turn the scoreboard on Saturday and you are going to be the face of this program that is expected to win football games and will be favored to win every single football game you play in. So right now, Carson’s entire expectations and all of his energy goes to ‘Ok, what does that scoreboard say at the end’ because we have an opportunity to win just about any football game any way we need to win it. I think he’s in a really good place with that right now.”
  • “Carson physically has probably been ready for this for the last couple of years. But I think now it is one of those things where now it is his time. Now is his time and now what are you going to do with it?”
  • “The thing now is he has faced elite defenses in practices for years. I know it has been talked about a lot, but he and I have talked about it a lot. It is hard to find open guys against Georgia’s defense. Really hard on a day-to-day basis. He’s done it well enough that he is the starter at Georgia now. There’s a lot to that mentally. There is the feeling that ‘Hey the games aren’t going to be any harder than what I see every day in practice’ to it or ‘Nobody is going to be more talented than what I see every day in practice’ and when you see him now you see that on a field. You see him warming up or in leadership or anything like that and I see that all show. I see that confidence of ‘Hey I’ve been in this program long enough and I’m comfortable against elite defenses and comfortable with just about any speed you throw at me’ when he’s out there.”
  • “I think that is going to show on Saturdays and I think that is probably going to benefit Carson for years and years to come. Because I do think that ultimately he will be a 10, 12, 15-year NFL type guy.”
  • “I normally catch for Carson when we throw. Because I get a lot of data by catching the ball. I don’t remember him missing a throw. I think he had a 120-throw day the last time. I think every one of them hit exactly where they were supposed to hit. It was like an effortless thing that had been programmed into him through proper training. Not by me. But by the University of Georgia to get his body to move rotationally in the way it benefits him.”
  • “He and I talked about that state championship throw last night. That is still the best throw that I have ever seen in a football game, man. We talked about it just last night. It was great.”

Thompson had a lot of insights like that about Beck. That 120-throw session came right before fall camp. But perhaps these two feelings were the most insightful.

“He’s won two national championships,” Thompson said. “He’s been a part of two national championships. But if you talk to Carson, those aren’t his. He wants his.”

“He loves the chance he’s got to do this threepeat thing. That’s always been the focus for him. I know there was never a time that he was seriously considering or even shopping around and leaving the University of Georgia.”

His longtime trainer is beyond excited to see Beck get this shot. His son is a huge Florida fan, but not this year. This year the Thompson family is all “Georgia-d” up for Beck.

“There’s nothing that can make me happier for the kid right now,” Thompson said. “In my head, he’s living his dream and he has stuck to his word when he went to Athens. To me, I’ve got a grin from ear to ear now when you just asked that question.”

He won’t be any prouder if Beck throws for 500 yards and six touchdowns today. Or if he throws two picks. That’s because Thompson knows where Beck is at right now and that the games to be played will eventually reveal the player he’s known Beck can be on Saturdays for a very long time.

Study time is over. Beck now gets to go out to recess and play.

We’ll find out a lot about Beck together this fall. But I already know one thing. There’s not a better player in college football who hasn’t started a game in the last four years.

“I don’t know that I’ve seen the kid smile this much in a long time,” Thompson said. “Being around him as much as I have over the last seven or eight days. It just made me really comfortable with everything.”

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