As the 23-year-old Blackshear native pressed his lips to the coveted College Football Playoff Championship trophy Monday night, Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett IV became a legend.
Bennett, once considered the unlikeliest of heroes for the Bulldogs, led his team to the program’s first national title since 1980.
After defeating Alabama and perhaps the greatest college coach of all time, Nick Saban, many writers have called it a “Hollywood moment” for the former walk-on. Bennett, who had seen more than his fair share of struggles and criticisms — all of which are well-documented now — helped Georgia achieve what felt nearly impossible for Bulldog nation in recent years.
It was truly a “David vs. Goliath” moment.
If someone were to make a movie of Bennett’s journey, it would be fitting to film in Georgia — particularly in Covington, because that’s where one half of the prelude of Stetson’s story begins.
His mother, Denise, grew up in the community and is a graduate of Newton County High School. While she now resides in Blackshear, her parents — Stetson’s grandparents — Larry and Shirley Beasley still call Covington home.
Others have called Stetson’s championship glory a “storybook ending” to his collegiate career.
Now a household name, Stetson was once viewed as a nobody.
Coming out of high school, he had only one scholarship offer to play football at a NCAA Division-I program from Middle Tennessee.
Scouts said he was too small. They said he wasn’t productive enough. They said he didn’t have what it takes to be a starting quarterback at the highest level.
But Stetson knew what he was capable of, and it was his dream to play for UGA. After a redshirt season with the Bulldogs, Bennett transferred to Jones College in Ellisville, Mississippi. Before bouncing to University of Louisiana in 2019, Bennett was called home to Georgia.
Though overlooked, underappreciated and, at times, unwanted, Bennett never gave up on his dream. Even this season, critics questioned his ability to lead Georgia past the titans of the SEC in Alabama. But instead of backing down, he welcomed the challenge head-on, and as it happened Monday night, the “Mailman” delivered.
Bennett’s story serves as a great lesson for all ages to heed.
“Life is hard,” Bennett said in a recent interview with Good Morning America. “You’ve got to work for what you want. You’ve got to bet on yourself. Other people might put in some change on the odds, but that never really matters. You’ve got to work hard, love the people that are around you and bet on yourself.”
If you want to be the best version of yourself, I suggest taking this lesson from the “book” of Bennett.
Tune out the doubters. Know what you’re capable of and push yourself to get better everyday. And never give up. When you do those things, no matter what aspirations you might have in life, one day you’ll get to hoist the proverbial trophy you’re chasing, and revel in your successes.
Taylor Beck is editor and publisher of The Covington News. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.