Georgia's Stetson Bennett celebrates after the College Football Playoff championship football game against Alabama Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022, in Indianapolis. Georgia won 33-18. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Stetson Bennett IV: Walk-on to champion. Heisman next?

Although anyone could have predicted that the Georgia Bulldogs would be undefeated and ranked No. 1 through the first three weeks of the season, no one could have expected the dominant play by starting quarterback Stetson Bennett IV, even if he did lead his team to their first national championship in over 40 years last season.

Nicknamed “The Mailman,” Bennett IV’s journey as a Bulldog is not exactly what one would describe as conventional, but he has delivered at every stop.

Betting Stetson Bennett IV

Originally a three-star quarterback from Pierce County High School in Blackshear, Georgia, Bennett IV held offers from smaller schools around the country, including Division-1 Middle Tennessee State. However, he began a trend that is still going to this day: betting on himself.

Georgia’s now-QB1 arrived in Athens as a walk-on freshman in 2017. During the Bulldogs’ run to an SEC Championship, Rose Bowl title and College Football Playoff National Championship appearance, Bennett IV stepped in as the team’s scout team quarterback and mimicked Baker Mayfield during the Rose Bowl practices. The Bulldogs won that game 54-48 in double overtime.

His work in practice to support the team earned him Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year with three other players. With the hype from his practice play and experience on a successful team, Bennett IV bet on himself once again by transferring to JUCO Jones College in Ellisville, Mississippi for the 2018 season. There, The Mailman led the Bobcats to a 10-2 record and a Mississippi Bowl win.

Now with the on-field experience, Bennett decided to make the jump back up to major Division-1 college football. He earned more offers from schools than when he was in high school, including an offer from Billy Napier and Louisiana. However, one offer stood out: his old school Georgia.

Back to the Bulldogs

Bennett IV returned to his role as the backup quarterback for the 2019 season. However, heading into 2020, Georgia experienced their own quarterback controversy. Then-starter Jake Fromm declared for the NFL Draft and in-coming transfer Jamie Newman decided not to enroll. Here, Bennett IV would have his first opportunity to start for the Bulldogs as he entered a quarterback battle with D’Wan Mathis.

Mathis would start the first game in 2020 against Arkansas, but after a lackluster performance, Bennett IV stepped in and led the Bulldogs to the win and earned himself the starting spot. As with any quarterback starting for the first time, he experienced multiple growing pains and was eventually benched. This led to JT Daniels eventually taking over late in the season and heading into 2021, but Bennett IV’s opportunity did not disappear completely.

Despite leading Georgia to a 10-3 win over Clemson to kick off the season, Daniels dealt with his own injuries, thrusting The Mailman back into the starting role, and the rest is history.

With Bennett IV as the full-time starter, Georgia would go 10-1, win the SEC East for the fourth time in five years and make their second playoff appearance. With a win over Michigan in the semi-final at the Orange Bowl, Bennett IV would get a rematch against Alabama in the national championship, the team that beat him in 2020 and in the 2021 SEC Championship Game.

Down 18-13 in the fourth quarter, Bennett IV threw two touchdown passes to give the team the lead and eventually the 33-18 win.

Despite being draft-eligible and Georgia having multiple highly recruited quarterbacks behind him, Bennett IV took another bet on himself and returned to Georgia for his final season. So far, Bennett IV’s bet has paid off.

National Champion in 2021, Heisman Trophy in 2022?

The Bulldogs began the season ranked No. 3 in the country and faced No. 11 Oregon in Atlanta. Despite it being a top-15 matchup, Georgia dominated in a 49-3 win. Bennett IV threw for a career-high 368 yards while adding two touchdowns.

In the days leading up to Georgia’s matchup with South Carolina in Week 2, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart discussed his quarterback’s growth during their time together.

Through three games, Bennett IV has thrown for 952 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions. His yardage ranks second in the conference behind only Mississippi State’s Will Rogers (977 yards). Additionally, Bennett IV’s yardage is the most by a Georgia quarterback through three games since Aaron Murray in 2013 (1,040). His 73.86 completion percentage ranks first in the SEC.

Currently, Vegas Insider gives Georgia’s starting quarterback +1200 odds to win the Heisman trophy, the fourth-highest in the nation. With those early odds, Bennett IV has a chance to become Georgia’s first Heisman Trophy winner since Herschel Walker in 1982.

So far, Bennett IV’s bets on himself have paid off. With the hype surrounding him now, can he successfully bet on himself one more time before his college career ends? Only time will tell.

Bennett IV and the Bulldogs host Kent State on Saturday at noon before resuming SEC play on Oct. 1 against Missouri in Columbia at 7:30 p.m.

About Cam Parker

Cam is a fourth-year broadcast journalism sports and media major at the University of Florida. In addition to writing and recording radio trendings for WRUF, Cam covers North Florida HS football for The Prep Zone and Mainstreet Daily News and UF football and basketball for Inside the Gators.

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