After helping Georgia capture the national championship in January, Bulldogs quarterback Stetson Bennett bet on himself and returned for another season in Athens. That gamble has paid off in a big way for the super senior and led to a tremendous honor on Monday. The Heisman Trophy Trust, which awards the Heisman Trophy each year to the nation’s top college football player, named Bennett one of four finalists for this year’s award. Bennett’s inclusion comes off a 13-game stretch in which the Georgia quarterback helped the Bulldogs go undefeated and clinch the top spot in the College Football Playoff.
“I don’t even know what to think right now,” Bennett said, via a release from the school website. “We have a lot of good players who make me look good. It’s special. This honor is all about my teammates and this team. I wouldn’t be here if we didn’t have the team that we have. This honor is for them. I understand what Coach Smart means when he says that success comes to those who don’t look for it or are too busy working to look for it. I have never thought of the Heisman. I just wanted to play quarterback at Georgia. I just wanted to play football. I’m thinking of the players and people who have been in this with me. Regardless of who wins, it’s a huge honor to be in this group. The wideouts, tight ends, running backs, offensive line, defense, coaches – I wouldn’t have this opportunity without them so a ton of gratitude for them.”
The other finalists for this year’s Heisman Trophy are TCU quarterback Max Duggan, Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud and USC quarterback Caleb Williams. This year’s ceremony will take place at 8 pm ET on Saturday, December 10 on ESPN.
Bennett stands as Georgia’s first Heisman Trophy finalist since Garrison Hearst in 1992. If the Bulldogs quarterback brings home the award, he would be the first Heisman winner for the Bulldogs since Herschel Walker in 1982.
Bennett decided to use his last year of NCAA eligibility and once again play for the Bulldogs in 2022. That decision proved worthwhile for the former walk-on, who completed 68.1% of his pass attempts for 3,425 yards with 20 touchdowns and 6 interceptions while also rushing for 7 additional scores. Bennett had just under 10 more attempts per game in 2022 than he did in 2021, and his completion percentage stood as the best of his collegiate career.
Bennett will enter the playoffs off a very strong performance in the SEC Championship Game.
Bennett led the way for Georgia against LSU by going 23-of-29 through the air Saturday for 274 yards with 4 touchdowns — each of which went to a different receiver — and no interceptions. Bennett’s play helped the Bulldogs beat the Tigers 50-30 for the program’s first SEC title since 2017, and his performance earned him MVP honors.
Bennett’s story to this point has been well documented.
Bennett came to Georgia as a walk-on in 2017 and gained attention for his work on the scout team, particularly when he imitated Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield to help the Bulldogs prepare for the Rose Bowl. Bennett left Georgia after the season and transferred to Jones College in Mississippi, where he threw for 1,840 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Bennett came back to Georgia as a scholarship player in 2019 and appeared in five games. He took over the starting role early in the 2020 season before suffering an injury against Florida that opened the door for JT Daniels to take his place.
Last season, Bennett entered the year as the backup to Daniels, who was considered a Heisman frontrunner during the summer.
Bennett ended the year holding the College Football Playoff national title trophy as part of one of the most incredible stories in the sport’s history.
Bennett rose to the challenge for Georgia last fall and helped the Bulldogs end a 41-year national championship drought. Following a few days of speculation after the title game, Bennett announced he was using his extra year of eligibility to return to Georgia in 2022.
When asked about his decision to return, Bennett made it clear what the sport and the Bulldogs program means to him.
“I love soccer. I love this team. I love the relationships, all the things that it teaches you. I also don’t think I’m as good as I’m going to be, and I don’t think this team is as good as it’s going to be,” Bennett said on March 22. “It’s about the daily grind, the daily competition … Where do we want to be next week? Where do we want to be tomorrow? It’s those little goals.
“Shoot, why does anybody who’s ever won something do it again? Because it’s cool. So, let’s go do it again. Let’s see if we’ve got what it takes.”