Bradley’s Buzz: Regarding Georgia and quarterbacks, Beck and Raiola

Buford quarterback Dylan Raiola (15) celebrates his second touchdown pass during the first half against St. Frances Academy at Tom Riden Stadium, Friday, August 18, 2023, in Buford, Ga. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Buford quarterback Dylan Raiola (15) celebrates his second touchdown pass during the first half against St. Frances Academy at Tom Riden Stadium, Friday, August 18, 2023, in Buford, Ga. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

By Georgia standards, this season was a smooth glide. The quarterback who started the opener started the SEC championship game – and the 11 games in between. That happened twice with Jake Fromm and once with Stetson Bennett, though both had their critics. In a nice change, Carson Beck not only kept his job but remained the people’s choice.

Georgia’s season has one game to go. Beck is practicing with the team, which doesn’t mean he can’t opt out of the Orange Bowl. If he does, that’ll mean he’s headed for the NFL, which means he won’t be around next season.

Not so long ago, Bulldog Nation might have been fine with that, too. No Beck would have meant no competition for Dylan Raiola, the hyped-to-the-heavens quarterback whose pursuit of education led him from a high school in Texas to another in Arizona to yet another in Buford, Ga. He remains committed to UGA, though we note he was once committed to Ohio State.

Major development: He’s set to take an official visit this weekend at Nebraska, just ahead of the first of two National Signing Days.

Remember the four-way tryout featuring Joe Tereshinski III, Matthew Stafford, Joe Cox and Blake Barnes? (The year was 2006. Three of the four wound up starting games. Georgia wound up losing to Vanderbilt and Kentucky.) The transfer portal has rendered mass auditions null and void. For quarterbacks, it’s easier to leave – or not show at all.

Raiola hasn’t yet de-committed from Georgia, though projections on 247 Sports have him landing with the Cornhuskers. His dad played there. His uncle is Nebraska’s O-line coach. That family ties didn’t stop him from committing to UGA in May suggests something has prompted him to reconsider. Something like an immovable incumbent, maybe?

Beck finished fourth nationally in yards passing. The guys who finished 1, 2 and 3 were Heisman finalists. Justin Fields left Georgia because he couldn’t displace Jake Fromm. JT Daniels left because he couldn’t reclaim the job from Bennett. Might Raiola just skip the QB-competition-part altogether?

Consider Kyle McCord. Nudged toward the portal despite leading Ohio State to an 11-1 season, he was scheduled to visit Nebraska this weekend. Wouldn’t the Cornhuskers, coming off 5-7 in Matt Rhule’s first season as coach, regard McCord as an upgrade? In most cases, yes. But with Raiola apparently available?

Update: McCord is no longer eyeing Nebraska. He’s considering Syracuse.

Back to Beck: Mike Griffith of DawgNation reports that sources believe the QB is seeking “upward of $4 million” to remain an, er, amateur. Even if Beck banks a paltry $3 mil, there’s every chance he stays.

He’s not projected as a first-round draftee. As college quarterbacks go, he’s a youngish 21. Were he to bolt now, it would leave Gunnar Stockton – who has completed six collegiate passes – as the Orange Bowl starter-by-default, Brock Vandagriff having split for Kentucky. It could also complicate what comes thereafter.

If Beck leaves and Raiola lands elsewhere, Georgia’s 2024 quarterback would be Stockton or 4-star commitment Ryan Puglisi. (Breaking news: Colter Ginn, a 3-star from Perry, announced Wednesday he’ll become a “preferred walk-on” at UGA.) But the chances of the Bulldogs having neither Beck nor Raiola for 2024 seem slim. If the latter signs with Nebraska, it’ll be because he expects the former to stick around.

But that portal never stops turning. Beck could lead the Bulldogs to the national title next year – there’s no chance Georgia misses a 12-team playoff – and ride into the sunset. Which could lead Nebraska’s freshman QB to say, yet again, “Hello-oo, Athens!”

If you’re a college quarterback, the grass is always greener. NIL money, we hear, is also green.

The above is part of a regular exercise available to all who register on AJC.com for our free Sports Daily newsletter. The full Buzz, which includes extras like a weekly poll and pithy quotes, arrives via email around 1:30 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

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