Bradley’s Buzz: Stetson Bennett, the greatest of all Georgia quarterbacks

Stetson Bennett is among four Heisman Trophy finalists. I doubt he’ll win, but I – and you, and everybody in this whole wide world – have been wrong so often about this not-so-young man that our doubts aren’t worth a dime. Stetson Bennett, the 25-year-old sixth-year senior, is living proof that, in sports as in life, nobody knows anything.

ExploreGeorgia’s Stetson Bennett invited to Heisman ceremony

2017: SB arrives at Georgia as a walk-on. He doesn’t play a down. He leaves when Justin Fields, the nation’s No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2018, enrolls early.

2018: SB plays for Jones County Junior College in Ellisville, Miss. When Fields leaves Georgia for Ohio State, the Bulldogs sign him – this time, he gets an actual scholarship – as a backup to Jake Fromm.

2019: SB plays as a reserve in three regular-season games – two in September, one in November – and is summoned when Fromm is injured against LSU in the SEC championship. SB throws one pass. It sails 30 feet over his target’s head. Fromm returns.

2020: With Fromm gone a year early, Wake Forest transfer Jamie Newman becomes the presumptive No. 1. He opts out of the COVID season just after Labor Day. D’Wan Mathis starts the opener against Arkansas. SB, who has taken almost no practice reps as the listed No. 4 QB, is summoned before halftime and steers the Bulldogs to victory. He starts the next five games, two of which Georgia loses. He gets hurt against Florida. J.T. Daniels, the transfer from USC, starts the final four games, all wins. SB throws two passes over those final four games.

2021: Daniels enters the season as a Heisman favorite. Without scoring an offensive touchdown, Georgia beats Clemson. Daniels tweaks an oblique. SB starts Game 2, throwing for 288 yards and five touchdowns. Daniels starts the next two games, both wipeout wins. He suffers a back injury. SB – again – becomes the full-time starter and, even as half of Bulldog Nation cringes, leads Georgia to the national championship, sobbing when the ultimate victory is secure.

ExploreGeorgia QB Stetson Bennett back for one more season

2022: SB announces he’s returning for a sixth collegiate season, again dividing public opinion. Daniels transfers to West Virginia. SB throws for 668 yards in the season’s first two games, which the Bulldogs win by an aggregate score of 82-3. By now, even the doubters pipe down. The Bulldogs go undefeated, win the SEC and are seeded No. 1 in the College Football Playoff. He makes second-team All-SEC, trailing only Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker, ahead of Bryce Young, last year’s Heisman winner.

Young wasn’t invited back to New York. Tennessee fans are going nuts that Hooker, who tore his ACL in the November loss to South Carolina, wasn’t invited. Bennett gets to go instead.

Over the past six years, Bennett has shared Georgia’s quarterback room with Fromm, Newman, Mathis, Daniels, Jacob Eason, Brice Ramsey, Carson Beck, Brock Vandagriff and Gunnar Stockton. (SB and Fields passed in transit.). Lots of big names in that group, so many that nobody of sound mind could have dreamed Stetson Fleming Bennett IV would be the quarterback to lead the Bulldogs to the summit. But there he stands.

Georgia is 27-3 in games Bennett has started. Against LSU on Saturday, he completed 23 of 29 passes for 284 yards. He threw four touchdown passes. The Bulldogs didn’t score 50 points because their quarterback was tossing dinky passes in the flat. They scored 50 because SB was slinging it. He was the game’s MVP.

Tweeted Aaron Murray, who knows a bit about Georgia quarterbacks: “Not only is Stetson Bennett going to NYC, he has moved, into GOAT status at UGA. He is the greatest QB in Georgia history.”

ExploreBulldog rewind: Stetson Bennett writes the perfect ending to his legend

Georgia’s first two national titles were won with Frank Sinkwich, who threw the ball but was listed as a “back,” the QB position being rather different in those days, and Buck Belue, who completed one pass against Notre Dame. Fran Tarkenton won the 1959 SEC title.. Matthew Stafford didn’t win the SEC. Neither did Murray, though he came close. David Greene and D.J. Shockley didn’t play for national championships. Fromm did, but his team was undone in overtime.

SB in last season’s CFP final: 17 for 26 for 246 yards and two touchdowns, the TDs coming in the final 8:09. He didn’t throw an incompletion in the fourth quarter. He was named offensive player of the game.

Yours truly has pronounced Bennett the greatest story in the history of college football. Yours truly stands by that, though he believes the “greatest story” part might mislead. “Rudy” was a good enough story that it became a movie. “Stetson” would make an even better film, given that the man himself is a living legend.

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

FAQ: How do you sign up? Go to the AJC.com home page. Click on “newsletters” at the top right. Click on “Sports Daily.” You’ll need to enter your email address. Thanks in advance, folks.