Questions continue to linger after Stetson Bennett speaks out at NFL combine

INDIANAPOLIS — Stetson Bennett IV had the opportunity Friday to allay concerns, erase doubts and highlight all the intangible qualities that helped lead Georgia to back-to-back college football playoff titles. Instead, the questions continue to linger.

Sometimes defensive and at other times bossy, Bennett spent 11 minutes at the NFL Scouting Combine explaining his offseason indiscretions, dealing with perceived slights and evading specific questions about what made him successful with the Bulldogs. The quarterback has generated a mixed reaction, and it’s unclear what that means for his future in the NFL.

“I don’t put a lot of myself on purpose,” Bennett said. “So the stuff that people get from me, they run with it, and they try to figure it out, instead of 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’m here. And so that’s what I’m going to keep trying to do.


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On the court, the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Bennett overcame his physical limitations to star in back-to-back national titles. As a fifth-year junior in 2021, Bennett completed 64.5% of his passes for 2,862 yards, 29 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. He was named Offensive MVP in college football playoff wins over Michigan and Alabama. Then last year, Bennett was the offensive MVP again in wins over Ohio State and TCU. Bennett threw for 4,127 yards, 27 touchdowns and seven interceptions with a 68.3 completion percentage. He was named to the All-SEC Second Team and was a Heisman Trophy runner-up.

But in the days following Georgia’s 65-7 win over TCU, Bennett generated 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, which he discussed with all the crews he met at the combine.

“It was a mistake that everyone is aware of,” Bennett said. “I understand why they can’t happen. I spoke about it to coaches, general managers. I apologize to my family; it was for him that I felt the worst. I felt like I let them down. Because no matter where I go now, and even without all of this, I have an obligation. I am the fourth. You can’t do that if your last name is Bennett.

One of the teams asking was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“They asked me about the incident,” Bennett said. “I answered them. They asked me about football and 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 championship win, including potential No. 1 overall defensive tackle Jalen Carter this week on reckless driving and racing charges. It was in connection with the deaths of teammate Devin Willock and scout Chandler LeCroy in a high-speed crash on January 15.

Bennett said the program is not responsible for these actions.

“It’s individual mistakes that these individuals are responsible for, not a cultural issue,” Bennett said.

Former Georgia defensive back Kelee Ringo added: “I would definitely say it has nothing to do with the program, man. I would say different people have different reasons for what they do, and to be a grown man you have to be responsible for what you specifically do. But on the character side, I have nothing to say about any of my teammates, but of course, to whom we give a lot, we expect a lot, and you have to be able to realize that.

Bennett’s alcohol-related incident came two weeks after he intentionally skipped the championship press conference the MVP is required to attend. During the Bulldogs’ championship parade in Athens, Bennett played on his cell phone and acted aloof during the community event. On Friday, Bennett ignored that criticism.

“People are entitled to their opinion. I saw it as a parade for us who won and I was playing music for Sed (Van Pran) and Chris (Smith) and trying to have a good time,” Bennett said. “People took it the way 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 strictly like a chance for me, sed and chris to be one last trip together to lumpkin on the way to sanford, and i just want to play the best bits at that time together.


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Bennett began his career in 2017 as an extra, transferred to Jones College in Mississippi in 2018, then returned to Georgia in 2019 after Justin Fields transferred to Ohio State. Bennett split his time with JT Daniels in 2020 and became the full-time starter in 2021 following Daniels’ injury. Initially, Bennett was seen as a game manager and not a reason for the Bulldogs’ success, which often fueled his chip-on-the-shoulder mentality.

His stock draft varies by team. Meetings and one-on-one drills will likely help establish where he stands at quarterback level. Formal and informal meetings will also help teams determine how he will interact with his teammates, even if he is not the starter.

“My obligation is to the team I get drafted to, to be the best player for it, to learn how to play football,” Bennett said. “I keep my head down, I play ball and so everything asked of me is asked of me. My job when I get there, whatever, I mean you have to be the best player to play. And I know there’s probably more to it here. But at the end of the day, that’s all you can control. So that’s what I’m going to do.

(Photo: Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

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