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January 8, 2022

Stetson Bennett

Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

Lucas Oil Stadium

Georgia Bulldogs

Press Conference

Q. When you come back to Georgia from junior college, do you have any stories you share with your teammates, maybe, hey, this is what it's like in junior college and this is why you should appreciate being at Georgia? I know you had a great experience there at Jones and you played with some great players, but what's the go-to -- here's what it's like to be in junior college story?

STETSON BENNETT: No, not really. No, not like a "be thankful for where you are" type thing. But just telling them about people who ask. Most of these guys come from small towns, so they what's out there and how lucky they are that we're at the University of Georgia. So they don't really need to be told again.

Q. As a Georgia kid, I'm wondering what kind of feel do you have for the 1980 team and do you feel -- do you feel connected to the longing that fans want to give back to what that team did?

STETSON BENNETT: Being a player who graduated a few years ago, Kyle and I were talking about this the other day, I know Lindsay Scott, he's from Wayne County. He's down there from where I'm from. And obviously I know Herschel. Talked to Buck Belue and a few other guys on the team. And I grew up listening to Larry Munson highlights on YouTube, all his calls.

But there's a point in time when you become a player that you can't really be a fan anymore. And I don't really know when that switch was. And I don't really know why. But you kind of flip a switch because you go through the day-to-day and you know all these guys. Can't really be fans of them.

You can't really be fans -- I don't really know how to explain it. I guess I do know the magnitude for everybody else out there because I was a fan at one point. So I know it's a pretty big deal.

Q. We're talking with some of your former coaches in high school and even juco. They all talk about the inner belief and confidence you've always had, especially getting back to being a quarterback for the Bulldogs. I just want to know where does that inner confidence come from? Is it from your family? Is it from a mentor? Is it from someone that you watch in the NFL? Just where does that come from throughout your career at a young age?

STETSON BENNETT: I don't know. I'd say it's probably a whole bevy of things. There's not one specific thing I can point to. I know it's not like a -- I'm not as confident in everything I do as I am in football. So I'd say it comes from work.

It's not an ignorant confidence, like I believe I can do anything. But I believe I can play football really well, and that's from the work that I've spent over these past however many years I've been playing football.

And my parents have always supported me, and I've always had really good players around me, which is everything on the football field.

Q. How much did going through the playoff preparation as a backup last time Georgia was here in 2018 and all the experiences that came with that get you ready for this? And what do you remember most from that experience last time Georgia was on this stage?

STETSON BENNETT: I don't know if "backup" is the right word. I was the scout team quarterback. And, so, that experience -- I was 17 -- I really don't draw too much on that experience. I was really young, no expectation of playing, absolutely none. My only focus was to get the defense ready.

And so I kind of just draw from all the big games we've had this year, like Clemson when I was the backup -- Bama, Tennessee, Auburn, Michigan -- all those big-time games that we had this year. That's where you draw from and you kind of take things from.

Q. What sticks with you the most about how that game played out for you guys? And how you feel now that you have the chance to lead this team to a long awaited championship?

STETSON BENNETT: I assume you're talking about the first Bama game this year.

Q. No, I'm talking about the 2017 season, the national championship game, just from 2018. Just the feeling that stayed with you from being on the sideline watching how that game played out for you, and now how you feel being the guy who has a chance to get a championship for Georgia.

STETSON BENNETT: Yeah, obviously it's a little different because I wasn't playing and didn't really have a chance to play. I guess then I was more of a fan.

But it hurt. You still put the time in just like all our scout team guys do. They want to win just as badly as we do. They've all worked out every single day we have, spent the long hours that we have, and they deserve to win just as much as we do.

And to have the opportunity to be the starting quarterback here, first of all, I'm lucky and extremely blessed, but it's also exciting. Like I said before the Michigan game, you want these games, or you come to Georgia because you want these type of games.

Just like Nakobe, Jamaree, Jordan, who is about to speak, you come to the university because you think you're a good enough football player to play at the University of Georgia, and you want to play against really good other players from other teams.

And we're playing against the best in the country this week. So it's exciting. And I think we're all ready for it.

Q. Let me ask about the flip phone because I don't know if anybody has actually asked you about it in this setting, what's the background on that? Do you actually still have a smartphone, or do you have to like -- and where did you find a flip phone? Did you have to like go on eBay or something?

STETSON BENNETT: No, so they actually still sell them at Verizon stores. Apparently a lot of old people still use them. I guess in June or July, I went -- I had a bunch of school coming up the next semester, I had football, I was, like, I spend, whatever, an hour on my smartphone a day doing what? Doing nothing, nothing that's going to help me. I don't even remember what I did.

I've thought about it before. I've thought about it for years. And I was like, well, I've got all this stuff to do, all this important stuff. Let's try not to let anything get in the way of that focus and just go get a flip phone.

I still have a laptop and a tablet for e-mail and anything important like that that I can use. And I will just use my cell phone for texting and calls. One pain in the butt is I have to carry a Notepad to write down stuff because I used my notes app a lot back in the day a lot. But strictly to help me out with time management and wasting time.

Q. We've heard so many things from you this year, but I haven't heard that much about your family, your mom and your dad and your brothers and sister. How big of a part, you all like to use the term "why," how big a part is your family part of your why, and your upbringing, and enabled you to get you where you are at the pinnacle of college football this week?

STETSON BENNETT: I owe everything to them for, first of all, for raising me in a good Christian house, teaching me right from wrong, which helped me through the past, whatever, not leaving and all that stuff, all that hoopla.

But I mean they supported me from the walk-on process saying, go, we'll help you out. And they're here now. They're supporting me now.

My little brothers and my little sister, they're always there for me. And they've got a hectic life. I'm not the only athlete in the family.

Good Lord, my mom and my dad, there's no telling how many miles they've traveled all over the country for softball, football, basketball, baseball, soccer. And they never complain about it. All while they're running businesses.

So it's impressive. And it inspires me -- I don't want to sound cliché and cheesy -- but it does, it inspires me, if they can do all that and be successful, then what's a little bit of football?

Q. Will there come a time where you do allow yourself back to the smartphone world? And the second part, talking about the frustration last week where you don't pay attention to what's being said. Is part of that frustration just kind of almost wanting to say, like, what do you want from me? I want to play quarterback. They're giving me the opportunity to play quarterback.

STETSON BENNETT: No, I probably I will. I'm not going to be some nomad, unless I decide to. I don't know.

I don't know, there's a lot of things that go unsaid from that frustration. I'm not really allowed to say it. But that's what, it's the nature of the beast. You're the hero or the zero.

I'm glad it was me instead of anybody else because I can handle it because I can just shut it off and tell people to go blah, blah.

But you just keep your head down and keep working. Trust your teammates to make plays, and you just go play football, the same game you've been playing since you were in little league. Just because more people are talking about it doesn't mean the rules have changed. So just go play.

Q. Sticking on your family, I know your grandfather was a college football player. I know he passed a few years ago. What was kind of his impact on you and what do you think he might say to you now kind of being in the position you're in as well?

STETSON BENNETT: Growing up, you always looked up to your granddad, at least I know I did -- both of them, my mom's dad and my dad's dad.

But my dad's dad, he played football at Stetson University. They quit the program. He hitchhiked to South Carolina. Was the ACC's leading rusher. Like I said, people make it such a hoopla about my journey. I didn't freaking hitchhike anywhere. That's just what you want to do if you want to play football. And it's as simple as that.

Maybe people aren't willing to do it anymore. But it never seemed like a big deal to me. And I guess that comes from seeing his example.

And you always want to make him proud and the texts that get me the most after a good game or whatever, saying papa would be proud of you. And you always want to make your family proud and leave the family name in a better spot after you've had it. And I know that's just football. I know there's a lot more to life than that. But while I'm here I'm going to try to do the best I can for it.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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