INDIANAPOLIS — Overnight, Stetson Bennett IV became a household name across America.
The University of Georgia quarterback’s story is bigger than sports. His is one of an underdog securing his place as a Georgia legend as he helped the Bulldogs win the College Football Playoff National Championship for the first time in more than four decades.
His father, Stetson Bennett III, was in Indianapolis for the big game. He says it’s something his son has been dreaming of since he was a little boy.
“Wow, it’s really special,” Bennett III said. “The Lord has given us a platform to show who He is and what He can do through the people that love him.”
He watched, cheering on his son, as the University of Georgia beat the Alabama Crimson Tide 33-18. The quarterback’s father shared a special moment with him after the victory.
“We just wept. I mean, it was just so special,” Bennett III said. “Literally, this was his goal when he was 3 years old.”
Proof, he says, that if you truly believe in yourself and have people around you who believe in you, there's nothing you can't do.
“He was told all his life, ‘You're too small. You can't do it.’ You know, my daddy used to have a saying, and he coached college football, and people like Stet he said, you know, he wasn't big enough. He wasn't fast enough, but somebody forgot to tell him,” Bennett III said.
Football runs in the family. The 23-year-old's father and grandfather played at the college level.
“My daddy was running quarterback. He ended up I think maybe second in the ACC, South Carolina was an ACC school back in those day," Bennett III said. "He taught me how to run the football. And I was probably average, maybe a little better than average. And, you know, I went over to Georgia Southern and started working out with the quarterbacks. I’m like 5’10, 165 pounds. You going to get beat to sleep out here. And so, I said, ‘Well, I can tell you one thing. I said, my son's going to be able to throw the football.'"
He started training his son at the age of 3.
“He was 3 or 4 years old out in the backyard, and I said, ‘Stet, tell me what you want to do with this.’ He said, ‘I want to play quarterback at the University of Georgia.’ I said, ‘Well, let's go to work, and that’s what we did,” Bennett III said.
The Pierce County High graduate turned down offers at smaller schools, walked on at the University of Georgia, then he transferred to a junior college to play football before returning to Georgia on scholarship.
“He just wanted it, and he worked for it,” Bennett III said. “Because of his size and his story and the belief in himself, every child in the state of Georgia can now believe that they can play quarterback at the University of Georgia. So that's pretty special story.”
What's next for number 13?
“Just like I've told him all his life, whenever I see my son, ‘I love you. I'm proud of you, and you can do anything in this world that you want to do. But you can't just want it. You got to go to work and work for it,'” Bennett III said. “So, I'm not sure. I don't know if he's going to go to law school. He's got another year of eligibility. So, I don't know if he's going to play another year. The good news is he's got options.”
Bennett IV’s story is one that will likely be told for many years to come, inspiring not just the Bulldog nation, but everyone who hears it.
“You can do anything in this world that you want to do,” Bennett III said. “But you can't just want it. You got to go to work.”