Georgia Football is Deeper Than Ever Before at Quarterback
I was born in 1990. Since shortly after that point in time, I’ve been keenly aware of Georgia football, especially the quarterback position. From 1991 up until 2002 there was one, singular, clear-cut starter for UGA at quarterback and not a lot of depth behind them. Of course, the 1995 debacle that ended the Ray Goff era was an outlier.
Eric Zier, Mike Bobo, Quincy Carter, and David Greene, in his first season, were all the undisputed QB1 with a large drop off behind them. 2002, 2003, and 2004 saw a slight precursor of what would happen during the Kirby Era, with 5-Star D.J. Shockley coming aboard with an already established star at the helm. Shockley spelled Greene about every third series it seemed during those years and was rewarded for staying the course in Athens in 2005 when he lead the Dawgs to an SEC Championship in his lone year as ‘the guy’.
Matt Stafford was the next star in line for the Dawgs. Stafford would take over for an injured Joe Tereshinski III in the South Carolina game If his freshman year in 2006 and never looked back. However, it could be argued, from a projected high school talent perspective at least, that 2007 was the deepest Georgia had been at quarterback with Joe Cox and A.J. Bryant on the roster. Cox came from the then national power Independence High School and AJ Bryant was a 4-Star and the top-ranked ATH in the country in his recruiting class.
Stafford’s talent would land him as the number one pick in the 2009 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions. Joe Cox would be the bridge to the next Dawg gunslinger in Aaron Murray.
Murray had a legendary run in Athens. Several SEC passing records became his during his 4 years as a starter for Georgia. Murray is still the career leader in Passing Yards, Passing Touchdowns, and Pass Completions in the storied conference. Hutson Mason and Greyson Lambert each had one year as the starter. Their seasons at the helm resulted in a (20 - 6) record and the culmination of Mark Richt's tenure in Athens.
In 2016, the Kirby era began and Jacob Eason was a recruiting holdover from the Richt regime. Eason, a big-armed QB now slated to go into the NFL Draft, had monumental expectations placed upon him. Like most true freshmen who start at quarterback in the SEC, there were struggles for the former 5-Star. Still, 2017 was something that Georgia fans were excited for now that Eason had the experience to go along with his raw talent. However, there was a new element being brought to the Georgia program for the first time, one that many didn't expect
Jake Fromm de-committed from Alabama and signed with Georgia upon Kirby Smart becoming the new head Dawg. This was the first time Georgia had two bonafide 5-Star signal callers on the same roster, and even so, Eason was still thought to be the better of the two by many.
On September 2, 2017, all of that would change as Jake Fromm would be forced into action due to an ankle injury to Eason against Appalachian State. Fromm would never look back. However, even when it had become apparent that Eason would be moving on, Georgia's next 5-Star duel at quarterback had been set up by October 6, 2017.
That's the day that Harrison High School superstar Justin Fields committed to the 'G'.
Even though Fields was, and still is, the most highly rated recruit in the history of the University of Georgia football program, it still was just a two-man depth chart with him and Fromm. Stetson Bennett got a lot of praise from Roquan Smith, Davin Bellamy, and Mel Tucker on the Dawgs run to a Rose Bowl victory, but the then walk-on from Blackshear, Georgia, was not ready for game action.
Now, all three 5-Star quarterbacks that Kirby Smart and company signed on to play at Georgia are gone. Yet, somehow, the quarterback room is deeper than it has ever been.
Since 2017, there have been two guys capable of playing at the most. In 2020, Georgia will have four men on this roster that would be more than capable of handling the starting duties. Admittedly the offense may look a little different with each, but a winning product could still be put out on the field with any single one of this red and black-clad quartet.
Let's not pretend here. It's not likely that a successful starter from an ACC program transfers with one year of eligibility left to sit. Jamie Newman will have to work for the starting role, no doubt about it, but he has the talent and experience to set him apart. The down-the-field accuracy that Newman has is impeccable and of course, he provides a threat with his legs as well. Many people are already throwing around Heisman talk and it's not out of the realm of possibility that Jamie Newman receives a first-round grade for the 2021 NFL Draft.
Stetson Bennett may not have been ready in 2017, but after a year away from the program and balling out at Jones County Community College in Mississippi, Bennett was brought back on scholarship. Besides Newman, Bennett will have the most experienced and he knows the ins and out of the Georgia program. Bennett is the smallest of the four quarterbacks and may not be as physically gifted in some ways, but make no bones about it given the opportunity, Bennett could help lead a successful offense.
D'wan Mathis, like Newman, provides an exciting option for the Dawgs. With a 4.6 forty yard dash and a personal best 10.8 in the 100 meters, it is clear that Mathis can run. This was put on display in the 2019 G-Day when Mathis navigate inside and out of the pocket well and even caught a long pass. Mathis has been hampered by the brain-cyst surgery that he spent most of 2019 recovering from. However, will a newly minted clean bill of health, the Belleville, Michigan native is ready to compete in spring practice once again.
Finally, Carson Beck. Honestly, I'm of the opinion that Carson Beck is getting forgotten by a lot of people in this equation. Once Beck committed to Georgia all the way back on March 3rd of 2019, he never wavered.
A prospect that works hard, does things the right way and doesn't create drama doesn't tend to get talked about as much as more controversial recruits, or those who wait until much later to make their intentions know.
Beck helped to turnaround the Mandarin Mustangs from a (2-8) floundering squad, to a State Champion in his first year as the starter during his junior campaign. Admittedly, Beck didn't have a good of a senior year statistically, but Mandarin dealt with a rash of injuries and Beck lost a few of his top receivers. Carson Beck is a 6'4.5" 226-pound prototypical quarterback with a strong arm and an advanced knowledge of the game. Sure, it will be hard for him to come in an beat out a Newman, or even Mathis and Bennett for the backup role, as a true freshman. But, disregard the physical capabilities, mental makeup, and grit of Carson Beck at your own peril.
In summation, Georgia has the most highly coveted graduate transfer of the 2020 offseason, two 4-stars that were flipped from Alabama and Ohio State, and an underrated former walk-on, turned scholarship player that was once compared to Baker Mayfield by the man who is now the Head Coach at Michigan State.
Yes, Georgia has more depth now at the quarterback position than ever before.
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