Mel Tucker: "Stetson Bennett's a beast, man"
LOS ANGELES – Could the player making the biggest impact for Georgia in Monday’s Rose Bowl against Oklahoma be one who hasn’t played a single down for the Bulldogs all year?
If you believe the praise coming Friday for walk-on and scout team quarterback Stetson Bennett, it could be.
Simulating Sooner quarterback Baker Mayfield isn’t easy. Bulldog players spoken to certainly didn’t compare the two as equals. However, when it’s came to giving the Georgia a reasonable facsimile, the freshman from Blackshear – who has yet to take a collegiate snap - has apparently been the man.
Just ask defensive coordinator Mel Tucker.
“Stetson Bennett’s a beast, man. … Stetson Bennett … Stetson Bennett puts a lot of pressure on our defense. He is extremely quick, he’s fast and he can throw,” Tucker said. “He can throw in the pocket, he can throw on the run and he’s a great competitor. He does a great job giving us a look and it challenges our players. I’m glad we have him.”
Tucker isn’t the only one who feels that way.
Even linebacker Roquan Smith, who has run down basically every quarterback he’s seen this year says Bennett gives the defense looks it might ordinarily not see.
“He’s probably a 4.5 guy, who throws the ball really good and is quick as a cat,” Smith said. “He gives us a great look. He’s been giving us a great look all year long so I’ll definitely say he’s been preparing us for some of the game we’ve played, especially ones that use both dual threat and pocket passers.”
For those who watched Bennett during his career at Pierce County High, hearing this sort of praise probably doesn’t come as a huge shock.
As a senior, Bennett earned second-team All-State 3-A honors after amassing 3,700 passing yards while rushing for an additional 500 with 40 total touchdowns.
“Stetson can impersonate any quarterback. He’s mobile. It’s hard to catch little Stetson,” nose guard John Atkins said. “He runs around every which way. It’s funny, but looking at Stetson you really need that because you need to see that kind of movement if you want to get to Baker Mayfield.”
Listed at 6-foot and 172 pounds in Georgia’s Rose Bowl media guide, Bennett had plenty of opportunities to sign scholarships to play football. According to his Rivals database, the freshmen had offers from Columbia, Georgia Southern, Mercer and Middle Tennessee but elected to come as a preferred walk-on to Georgia, where his father and mother both attended school.
“If you want to have a Baker Mayfield Mini-Me, that’s him,” safety J.R. Reed said. “He can play ball. He could probably play at any school he wants to right now and be starting if he was just a little taller. But he can play. He scrambles, spins out, move, throw like Baker does … He’s done a great job for us all year.”