Considering Stetson is six years older than his younger brothers, that he’s able to play a college football season with one of them is quite the surprise.
“That’s special,” their father said. “We never expected them to have the opportunity to play together. Hopefully they’ll get in a game together.”
Meanwhile, Stetson is enjoying his first college offseason as QB1, at Georgia or anywhere else, for that matter. So, there is definitely level of comfort he hasn’t experienced since quarterbacking Pierce County High School.
“Just seeing him every day in the locker room, going to grab a bite to eat, just the little stuff is super cool,” Stetson Bennett IV said of Luke. “We never were on the same team or never got to do any of that stuff, so that’s pretty special. We’re super lucky, both of us are.”
Bennett’s level of comfort is reciprocated by his coaches and teammates. Now a sixth-year senior who has led his team to a national championship, the Bulldogs know they can achieve all their goals with Bennett under center. While his status as QB1 might still be a polarizing issue for a small, vocal subset of the fan base, it’s not even a wild whim among the people who work with Bennett every day.
“Confidence, coachable, understanding how to use the offense to help you,” coach Kirby Smart said of his starting QB. “Anytime you have a guy who’s been in a meeting room for two and three years under the same system, it helps. But the reps help even more than the meeting-room experience. He’s taken more reps with the 1s, he’s gotten more quality work against the best we’ve got to offer every day. I think that has helped his growth.”
Coordinator Todd Monken now has designed Georgia’s offense around Bennett’s unique skill set, even allowing his quarterback into brainstorm sessions and to offer suggestions. It makes sense considering Bennett will turn 25 years old the day before the Bulldogs play Florida in Jacksonville. He is the same age as some of UGA’s graduate assistants.
Bennett’s deep understanding of Georgia’s offensive concepts has been evident on the practice field.
“His communication level is one of the biggest things,” sophomore center Sedrick Van Pran said. “You know, Stetson and I communicate a lot throughout practice and games about the different things we’re seeing from the defense. He’s always calling and texting me about watching film together so we can see things the same way. I’d say his communication has been stellar and something he’s improved on a lot.”
Whether it’s quick-thinking or quick-feet, the buzz around the Bulldogs’ locker room is that Bennett is faster this season.
Said senior outside linebacker Nolan Smith: “Man, that boy is quick. He outran a couple of us early on in practice when everybody was fresh. But I’d say he’s faster, stronger. I just say he has that confidence level that shows when the teams behind him.”
Indeed, Bennett said after deciding to return for a sixth season last winter that he expected to improve in all ways as a player this season. While that was expected from a playbook-consumption standpoint, few considered the physical aspects.
Humbly, Bennett admitted that he is indeed a little bit faster. That is easily confirmed from the GPS numbers UGA digitally compiles on its players after every workout.
“I don’t know, they said I am, a little bit,” said Bennett, who previously has been clocked at 4.5-seconds in the 40-yard dash. “I don’t why that is. I guess a good offseason. I do feel pretty quick right now.”
Perhaps it’s the close-cropped hair that he has maintained since preseason camp opened. He said he’ll probably go back to “my ‘fro,” as in afro hairstyle, when it gets cooler in the fall. For now, that’s one of just many changes that can be seen in Bennett.
In a few more days, the college football world will find out whether that makes a difference in the way the Bulldogs play. They’ll officially begin their defense of their national championship on Saturday against No. 11 Oregon in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
A challenge in and of itself, the Pac-12 power is under the direction of former Georgia defensive coordinator Dan Lanning. He will be exceptionally familiar with the Bulldogs’ offensive concepts, not to mention the quarterback running the show.
But Bennett most definitely feels better prepared for a game than he has at any other point in his storied career.
“Last year, I pretty much lucked into being able to go out there and play, to an extent,” Bennett said. “This year, you’ve got fall camp, you’ve got spring and now we’re here at game week. It’s weird because it came faster because you’re so busy day-to-day. Last year I wasn’t quite as attuned because not only was I not the starter, I wasn’t the second-string guy.”
No, Stetson Bennett is undisputed as Georgia’s QB1. Having made the climb from unknown walkon to celebrated championship quarterback, he was asked if he shared any advice with his younger brother.
“Yeah, a few things, but I’ll keep between us two,” he said.
If anyone has paid attention to Stetson’s matriculation at Georgia, it’d be wise not to count out Luke Bennett.