NEW YORK – Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett placed fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting Saturday night. Bennett was one of four finalists, all quarterbacks, who attended the ceremony this weekend in New York. He was the Bulldogs’ first Heisman finalist in 30 years.

Southern California’s Caleb Williams won the award, becoming his program’s record eighth Heisman winner. Bennett, 25, received 349 points in voting, behind Williams (2,031), TCU’s Max Duggan (1,420) and Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud (539).

Bennett received 36 first-place votes, 65 second-place votes and 111 third-place votes. He was named on 24.23% of ballots. The system grants three points for a first-place vote, two for a second and one for a third. The independent accounting firm of Deloitte & Touche LLP received and tabulated the ballots.

The finalists were joined by 23 previous Heisman winners on stage at Lincoln Center during the ceremony. The players’ coaches and families were also in attendance and interviewed during ESPN’s broadcast. The finalists have been in Manhattan since Friday afternoon, sightseeing and meeting several times with media.

Bennett, a Blackshear native, threw for 3,425 yards with 27 touchdowns (20 passing) against six interceptions. His team is 13-0, having won the SEC and earned the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff. The sixth-year senior has been the steady hand guiding Georgia’s offense for the past two seasons, but he assumed more responsibility in 2022.

“We’ve thrown the ball more this year, for whatever reason,” Bennett said Friday. “We’re scoring more points this year. So far, it’s been more explosive. There has been more asked of me this year, which has been fun for me. I’ve enjoyed it a lot. I think that comes from me earning it, me being good enough to do that. I don’t think I necessarily was last year. Some spots, but not all the time.”

Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Stetson Bennett (13) runs against the LSU Tigers during the second half of the the SEC Championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Saturday, December 3, 2022, in Atlanta. (Jason Getz /

Credit: Jason Getz /

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Credit: Jason Getz /

Bennett became a Heisman finalist largely because he was exceptional in Georgia’s most important games. He had a 13:2 touchdown-to-interception ratio in the Bulldogs’ five ranked wins. He threw 25 or more times in each of Georgia’s games against Oregon, Tennessee and LSU – their three toughest opponents by ranking.

Across those three contests, Bennett went 65 of 85 passing for 899 yards. He had 10 touchdowns (eight passing) without an interception. Georgia outscored those teams 126-46, an average winning margin of nearly 27 points.

Since Heisman finalists were invited to New York (1982), Bennett is the third Bulldog to make the trip, following running back Herschel Walker, who won in 1982, and running back Garrison Hearst, who finished third in 1992. Georgia has two Heisman winners in Walker and Frank Sinkwich (1942).

It’s a remarkable development that Bennett, once a walk-on and even last September not the Bulldogs’ starter, became the Georgia quarterback closest to earning college football’s most prestigious honor. Bennett has said multiple times he hopes his path gives hope to others with similar aspirations.

“The American dream,” said Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart during an interview on the broadcast. “We kept thinking he wasn’t good enough (before he took over permanently as a starter), and he kept proving us wrong over and over and over again.”

Georgia Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart walks with quarterback Stetson Bennett (13) before their game against the Oregon Ducks at Mercedes Benz Stadium, Saturday, September 3, 2022, in Atlanta. (Jason Getz /

Credit: Jason Getz /

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Credit: Jason Getz /

Smart, amid outside criticism of Bennett’s play late last season, remained committed to the quarterback. Bennett led Georgia to its first national championship in four decades, making several big-time throws late against Alabama in the title game.

“It paid off (staying committed to Bennett) because he earned it in practice,” Smart said. “He earned it with his teammates. He earned it with the way he performed in every big moment, and he did that this year as well.”

Bennett will turn his sights on becoming the first Bulldogs quarterback to win consecutive national championships. His Bulldogs will face Stroud’s Buckeyes in the Peach Bowl on Dec. 31. It will be the fourth time Heisman finalists meet in a CFP game. Bennett and Stroud received nearly the same number of first-place votes (Stroud earned 37 such votes, besting Bennett by one).

If No. 1 Georgia defeats No. 4 Ohio State – the Bulldogs are 6.5-point favorites – it will face No. 2 Michigan or No. 3 TCU in the national championship Jan. 9 at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California.

Whatever the ending, Bennett has achieved one of the most decorated careers for a Bulldogs quarterback.

“I’ll leave that to the authors and poets,” Bennett said when asked what he wanted his legacy to be Saturday before the ceremony. “I don’t know. I just hope to give them good material.”

On the winner:

Williams, 20, followed coach Lincoln Riley from Oklahoma to USC. The sophomore threw for 4,075 yards and 37 touchdowns against four interceptions in his first season in Los Angeles. He led USC to an 11-2 record, which equaled its most wins in a season since 2009.

Williams is the only quarterback of the four finalists whose team didn’t make the College Football Playoff. His Trojans will face Tulane in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 2. Bennett and Stroud will face off in the Peach Bowl, while Duggan will oppose the Wolverines in the Fiesta Bowl.

Williams is the Trojans’ first winner since Matt Leinart (2004) and Reggie Bush (2005) won consecutive Heisman trophies (Bush’s has since been vacated). He is the third Heisman-winning USC quarterback joining Leinart and Carson Palmer (2002). He’s also the third quarterback to win the Heisman under Riley’s tutelage, following Baker Mayfield (2017) and Kyler Murray (2018). Jalen Hurts, another Riley protégé, finished runner-up to Joe Burrow in 2019.

Williams and the Trojans will try to break into the CFP next season, which will likely be Williams’ final collegiate campaign. He’s already projected as a top-five pick in the 2024 NFL draft and, if he continues what he showed this season, he’ll be a strong candidate for the No. 1 choice.

Top 10 Heisman voting results (total points):

1. QB Caleb Williams, USC (2,031)

2. QB Max Duggan, TCU (1,420)

3. QB C.J. Stroud, Ohio State (539)

4. QB Stetson Bennett, Georgia (349)

5. QB Hendon Hooker, Tennessee (226)

6. QB Bryce Young, Alabama (141)

7. RB Blake Corum, Michigan (125)

8. QB Michael Penix Jr., Washington (114)

9. RB Bijan Robinson, Texas (75)

10. QB Drake Maye, North Carolina (42)