Appreciate Stetson Bennett, perhaps the last of his kind


Sometimes an underdog story comes right out of the box. Sometimes Cinderella and her unfathomable magic shines not for a team that wasn’t supposed to succeed, but for an individual who impossibly became part of the team that was.

Sometimes there’s a guy like Stetson Bennett IV, except there really isn’t one, not exactly like him anyway, not when this unassuming young man of excellence had to perform football miracles just to turn- se in the Georgia quarterback, no matter what he is. done since then.

What it has done is reel off two straight national championships for a Bulldogs program that hadn’t claimed one in four decades, the second coming Monday night courtesy of a 65-7 drubbing of TCU.

It’s the kind of success that usually leads to large-scale imitation, but that won’t happen in Bennett’s case. It’s too unusual, way too homey, and too old-school values-based for that. He is the outlier of the outliers, the throwback of all throwbacks in these rapidly changing times of NIL, and the portal and expansion.

It was Big 12 upstart TCU, what was supposed to be the Cinderella of the season, entering as a heavy underdog after 12 wins, a shutout and then a semifinal win over Michigan.

Sorry Sonny Dykes, stock punters, SEC haters, Max Duggan, and neutral romantics, this wouldn’t be. Bennett wouldn’t allow it.

And while the night felt like a determined round of bullying, the more adolescent side sometimes hard to see, the architect of the shellacking was a player whose route to football’s biggest game university was from far beyond the boondocks. Too much for a plausible script. Like Rudy, if Rudy had played every game, been a Heisman finalist, and yes, won a couple of championships.

You probably already know Bennett’s story, but it’s the kind of tale that doesn’t get old, even as Bennett gets older, positively old for an elite college QB at 25. He wasn’t a top pick for major programs, the The only offer came from Middle Tennessee, so because he’s from Blackshear, Ga., and he loved Georgia and just wanted to play for Georgia, he kept walking to Athens.

Kirby Smart liked what he saw of his attitude and spirit and loved how he mimicked Baker Mayfield for the scout team, but that wasn’t going to stop head coach from bringing in a star, Justin Fields for the 2018 season, so Bennett headed to Jones County Junior College in Ellisville, Miss., to play for a while.

He did well there, and that’s when things started to get weird. He transferred back to Georgia (who does?) waited his turn, beat out a slew of five-star recruits and landed the 2021 job.

He knew how much he loved the Bulldog life, but he also discovered that he enjoyed winning enough to keep doing it as long as he could. That includes this campaign, as a sixth-year senior born the same year as Lamar Jackson, and just a couple of months older than Kyler Murray, who now has nine years of combined NFL experience between them.

These guys could soon be making close to $100 million a year between them and the likelihood of Bennett joining them at that high level is not perceived. What he does have, forever etched in his memory, is the possession of a college career straight out of his dreams, an outrageous fantasy that somehow came true.

It ended with a one-goal timeout called to give him a curtain call with 13:25 left in the fourth quarter, after a breathless night of four rushing touchdowns and two more on his feet.

Everything he did worked. His throws were laser-guided, his vision sharp, his legs quick and lively.

The reason Bennett did what he did, not just at SoFi Stadium, but throughout his career, is because his main attribute is the ability to win, and you don’t need to look much further than that. There are bigger, stronger, faster, bicep guys, plus others, whose pitching range will lend itself much better to Sunday football.

Georgia, now arguably the sport’s current behemoth, wanted no one else.

They wanted Bennett’s level of effort, his relentlessness, his work flow, his heart, his “glue-guy” leadership, his passion for the program and his contagious enthusiasm, so willing to get involved in although he was also the team’s owner.

Back to copy; just forget it. Loyalty and love don’t run so deep anymore. When the boys don’t play, they leave. When they leave, they don’t come back. When they win, they mostly leave for a day’s pay.

Bennett was not like that. Don’t go looking for a clone for your team. They don’t exist.

The joke, and no one knows if it’s a joke or not, is that Bennett will sooner or later own one or more Georgia car dealerships. Before that, he may project as an NFL backup. He may have played his last football game.

It’s not Justin Herbert, it’s older than him anyway. He won’t be talked about like Bryce Young when the draft rolls around.

His time is now. His story is his, and unique. It is to be enjoyed, not because it is the beginning of a trend, but precisely because it is not.

Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and author of the FOX Sports Insider newsletter. Follow him on Twitter @MRogersFOX i subscribe to the daily newsletter.

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