Questions continue to arise after Stetson Bennett speaks at the NFL

INDIANAPOLIS — Stetson Bennett IV had the opportunity on Friday to allay fears, erase doubts, and shed light on every intangible quality that allowed him to lead Georgia to back-to-back college football titles. Instead, the questions keep coming.

Sometimes defensive and at other moments authoritative, Bennett spent 11 minutes at the NFL Scouting Combine explaining his off-season indiscretions, addressing perceived insults and dodging specific questions about what enabled him to find success with the Bulldogs. The quarterback produced a mixed reaction, and it is not known what that means for his future in the NFL.

“I don’t put too much of myself out there on purpose,” Bennett said. “So the things that people get from me are running with it, trying to read it, rather than just saying what it is. So, I tried to be honest with them, just like I tried to be honest with (the media) every time I was here. And that What I will continue to try to do.”

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On the field, the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Bennett overcame his physical limitations to lead back-to-back national titles. As a fifth-year junior in 2021, Bennett completed 64.5 percent of his passes for 2,862 yards, 29 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. He was named Offensive MVP in College Football Playoff wins against Michigan and Alabama. Then last year, Bennett was the offensive MVP again in wins against Ohio State and California State University. Bennett threw for 4,127 yards, 27 touchdowns and seven interceptions for a score of 68.3 points. He was named to the All-SEC second team and was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.

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But in the days after Georgia’s 65-7 victory over TCU, Bennett created a buzz for the wrong reason. In the early morning hours of January 26, he was cited for public intoxication in Dallas. It was a minor incident, and he had discussed it with every team he met at the combine.

“It was a mistake that everyone recognizes,” Bennett said. “I understand why they couldn’t happen. I’ve talked to the coaches about it, I’ve talked to the executives. I apologize to my family. That’s what I felt bad about. I felt like I let them down. Because no matter where I go now, even without all of this, I have a commitment. I’m the fourth. You can’t do that if your last name is Bennett.”

One of the teams I asked was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“They asked me some questions as they wondered about the accident,” Bennett said. I answered them. They asked me about football and they asked me about life, trying to figure out who I was, and I thought it went well.”

Several Georgia players have been arrested or cited since the tournament win, including potential #1 defensive tackle Jalen Carter this week on reckless driving and racing charges. It was related to the death of teammate Devin Willock and employee Chandler Lecroy during a high-speed crash on January 15th.

Bennett said the program is not responsible for those actions.

“Those were individual mistakes these individuals had to bear, not a cultural issue,” Bennett said.

Added former Georgia fullback Kelly Ringo, “I would definitely say that has nothing to do with the program, man. I would say different people have different reasons for what they do, and to be an adult man, you have to be accountable for specifically what you do.” Personal, I don’t have anything to say about any of my teammates, but of course, to whom a lot is given is expected, and you have to be able to recognize that.”

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Bennett’s alcohol-related incident came two weeks after he intentionally skipped the tournament press conference MVP was required to attend. During a Bulldogs championship show in Athens, Bennett played on his cell phone and happened to be secluded during the community event. Friday, Bennett brushed off that criticism.

“People are entitled to their opinion. “I saw it as a show of who we won and I was playing music by Mr. (Van Braun) and Chris (Smith) and trying to have a good time,” Bennett said. “People took it as I was—I don’t really know how people took it—but they didn’t like it. And so, I’m sorry about that. But I just saw it as a chance for me and Sid and Chris to be on one last trip in Lumpkin on the way to Sanford together, and I just want to play the best tunes on those.” moment together.”

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Bennett began his professional career in 2017 as a walk-on, transferred to Jones College in Mississippi in 2018, and then returned to Georgia in 2019 after Justin Fields transferred to Ohio State. Bennett split with JT Daniels in 2020 and became a full-time starter in 2021 after Daniels was injured. Initially, Bennett was seen as a game director rather than a cause for the Bulldogs’ success, which often fueled his chip-on-the-shoulder mentality.

His draft varies by team. One-on-one meetings and training will probably help him decide where he fits in the middle class. Both formal and informal meetings will also help teams determine how he will interact with his teammates, even if he is not the starter.

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“It’s my duty to the team I’m recruited to, to be the best player for it, and to learn to play football,” said Bennett. “I keep my head down, I play the ball and so I’m asked whatever I’m asked of. My job when I get there, no matter, I mean, you have to be the best player you play. And I know there’s more to that probably here. But at the end of the day, that’s all.” What you can control. So that’s what I’m going to do.”

(Photo: Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

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