Beck, Vandagriff, Stockton vying at QB in Georgia’s ‘healthy competition’

Georgia photo by Tony Walsh / Georgia quarterback Carson Beck throws a pass during the fourth quarter of the 65-7 thrashing of TCU in January's national championship game of the 2022 season.

Stetson Bennett is no longer Georgia's quarterback, but his presence remains for those vying to be his successor.

"I think the biggest thing about him was how well he was able to handle adversity and being counted out and having to sit and wait," redshirt junior Carson Beck said Tuesday night during a news conference. "I don't think there is a better example of sitting and waiting and being counted out. Obviously I've learned a lot from him."

In an era when quarterbacks abruptly bolt from school to school, Beck, redshirt sophomore Brock Vandagriff and redshirt freshman Gunner Stockton have returned for the Bulldogs with the shared objective of hunting down a third consecutive national championship. Bennett spearheaded the first two, but these spring practices and August camp will be the proving ground for who grabs the reins Sept. 2, when Georgia opens at home against the University of Tennessee at Martin.

Kirby Smart's Bulldogs practiced Tuesday and will work out again Thursday and Saturday as spring drills near the home stretch that will culminate with the G-Day game on April 15.

"It's just really a healthy competition," Vandagriff said. "Everybody is pushing the others to be great. It's a good environment, and I'm happy to be here. You come to UGA for the competition, and I knew that coming in.

"Coach Smart is going to put the best guy out there who gives Georgia the best chance to win, and I'm going to be a better player regardless of the outcome."

  photo  Georgia photo by Tony Walsh / Georgia quarterback Brock Vandagriff talks with offensive coordinator Mike Bobo during a spring practice last month in Athens.

Smart said after last Saturday's first scrimmage that Beck and Vandagriff split first-team reps and that Stockton split time with the twos and threes. He added that his Bulldogs have "three really good quarterbacks who are all different in their own ways."

Beck, a 6-foot-4, 215-pounder from Jacksonville, Florida, played in seven games last season and completed 26 of 35 passes for 310 yards and four touchdowns. He had an 18-yard touchdown pass in the win over Oregon that opened the season and was 2-of-3 for 31 yards in the 65-7 shredding of TCU in the national championship game.

"Last year was really big for me," Beck said. "Obviously Stetson had a great year and went out on top, which was awesome. He did really well in certain games, and when we got up big, I got to get some experience."

Said Smart: "Carson has really good command of the offense. He understands it inside and out. He communicates it. He gets things correct, and he has really good presence in the pocket."

Vandagriff (6-3, 205), who is from just outside of Athens in Bogart, played last season against Samford, South Carolina and Vanderbilt but attempted only two passes. Stockton (6-1, 210) redshirted after arriving as a four-star signee out of Rabun County High School.

Beck may have the inside track for the top spot based on experience, but he isn't taking anything for granted.

"Every year is individual of itself, and I think every quarterback should feel that way every single year they step into it," Beck said. "That goes for last year, too. Stetson was coming off the national championship, but every day I walked out there, I felt like I was the guy.

"That's the mindset you have to have."

Georgia's quarterbacks are working under new offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, who quarterbacked the Bulldogs from 1994-97.

"He knows what we're going through," Beck said. "He connects and relates to us on that level."

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