Earlier today Mr. Sanchez acquainted you with the roster numbers that are likely to shape Georgia’s 2018 signing class. One of the inescapable truths is that with only Jacob Eason and Jake Fromm likely to be on campus as scholarship quarterbacks after this season, Georgia will need two quarterbacks in the 2018 class. Finding two five star QBs to come in and complete right behind the two that we have on campus now is a tall order, and while there are some offers out there, Georgia doesn’t have the depth it would like at the position.
Sanchez also mentioned that Kirby Smart & Co. might go looking for a preferred walk-on QB in 2017 who could at least provide a little more depth. Rifle-armed K’Hari Lane of Macon County makes sense there, as he’s likely the best high school quarterback you’ve never heard of. But another great 2017 Peach State quarterback who didn’t get a ton of major college attention has already pulled the trigger and announced that he’ll be playing at Georgia.
Excited to announce my commitment as a preferred walk-on to UGA! GO DAWGS!! pic.twitter.com/1cWAXWcl1m— The Mail Man. (@StetsonIV) February 3, 2017
Pierce County standout Stetson Bennett, IV is going to walk on in Athens in lieu of scholarship offers from Georgia Southern, Mercer, Middle Tennessee State and others. Bennett has been one of the most productive passers in Georgia for the past few seasons, throwing for over 9100 yards in his career, 3700+ in 2016 alone. But in a class that saw GAC’s Davis Mills sign with Stanford, Jake Fromm with Georgia, Grayson’s Chase Brice pledge to Clemson, McEachern’s Bailey Hockman sign with Florida State, Cedar Grove’s Jelani Woods go to Oklahoma State, and Northside (Warner Robins) quarterback Tobias Oliver stay instate at Georgia Tech, Bennett was not a hot item despite burning up competition in southeast Georgia.*
The main reason Bennett didin’t get more attention? The thing that snares many high school quarterbacks: size. Bennett is listed at 6’0 flat and around 175 pounds. While that’s above average height for the general male population it’s downright Lilliputian for an SEC quarterback. It’s probably the biggest reason that Bennett was ranked the #103 pro style passer in the nation by 247Sports’ composite rankings, and not even among the top 200 recruits in Georgia regardless of position.
But the thing is, it’s sort of hard to square those appraisals with Bennett’s play on the field during his senior season. You see, the kid’s kind of a baller.
We like to draw parallels between incoming recruits and Bulldog players with whom you are familiar. I’d describe Stetson Bennett like this: Hutson Mason trapped in a slightly less athletic Aaron Murray’s body. I think Bennett has a quicker release than Mason did coming out of high school, though his arm strength is probably similar. Bennett impressed some folks on the camp circuit over the past couople of summers with nice touch, but he doesn’t have a rocket arm. That’s going to mean that a lot of the throws you seeing lofting nicely into the arms of downfield receivers would be picked off by the likes of Dominick Sanders.
But Bennett definitely has better mobility than Mason, albeit not on par with Murray. He also does not have Murray’s somewhat underappreciated arm strength. When he manages to set his feet and throw from a good position he’s as accurate as any QB in the state. But he also throws well on the run. That’s good because if we ever have to play Bennett in a game he’s going to have to roll out of the pocket to see over the phalanx of behemoths Sam Pittman just recruited.
You don’t recruit a guy like Bennett to play him, though. You recruit him just in case. He’s a 4.0 student who got an offer from Columbia and received interest from Harvard. He’ll pick up the play book well and if, Heaven forbid, the time ever comes he’ll hand the ball off to Brian Herrien and get out of the way, and he’ll find Isaac Nauta coming back to the ball if he needs to. Kirby Smart has done a fantastic job over the past couple of years building a strong walk on program, not unlike what Mark Richt and Dave Van Halanger did upon arriving in Athens. That emphasis gave us Tra Battle, an undersized safety out of Forsyth who somehow wound up starting against Clemson as a true freshman.**
Stetson Bennett is the rare signee I hope to never see on the field, because if I do it will mean that a lot of things have gone badly wrong to get us there. But I’m glad he’ll be around just in case.
Last RT was all about synergy. With a name like Stetson Bennett, IV your options are Mercer, Suwanee, and SMU, not necessarily in order.— Dawg Sports (@dawgsports) August 1, 2016
*To say that this was the deepest class of quarterbacks in Georgia high school history would be like saying the Titanic was a fairly good sized boat or William Faulkner was an okay writer. The reasons are many, but it’s a trend that will likely continue in the future, much to the benefit of the Georgia Bulldogs.
** Okay, we kind of know how Battle ended up starting that game. But let's not let his Rudy moment go up in a cloud of smoke.