INDIANAPOLIS — Former Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett IV addressed his somewhat tumultuous offseason, which included a January arrest in Dallas for public intoxication, on Friday at the NFL’s scouting combine.
Bennett, who was a Heisman Trophy finalist this past season, also did not participate in any of the postseason all-star games and was criticized for his actions during the victory parade after leading the Bulldogs to back-to-back national championships.
Bennett was arrested Jan. 15 in Dallas when police responded to calls about a man pounding on doors in the early-morning hours.
“It was, you know, a mistake that everybody’s aware of,” Bennett said. “I understand why that can’t happen, I’ve talked to coaches about it, talked to GMs, apologized to my family. That’s who I feel the worst about, felt like I let them down because no matter where I go now and even without all this, I’ve got an obligation, I’m the fourth, can’t do that if your last name is Bennett.”
A former walk-on, Bennett rose to become a full-time starter on two national championship teams — he was the MVP in both title games — including passing for 304 yards and six total touchdowns (four passing, two rushing) in the Bulldogs’ rout of TCU in January.
It has been a rocky post-championship run for Bennett in addition to his arrest. He took significant public criticism for being on his cellphone during the team’s victory parade, including while a reporter for an Atlanta television station attempted to interview him during the parade. And from the podium during the celebration after the parade, Bennett said, “Y’all kept telling us how bad we were, and y’all couldn’t understand it, and we kept winning and we kept embarrassing people, screw it, we got two rings.”
“People were entitled to their opinion,” Bennett said Friday. “I was — I saw it as a parade for us who won and I was playing music for [teammates], trying to have a good time. People took it as, I don’t know what people took it as, but they didn’t like it. I’m sorry about that, but I strictly just saw it as a chance for me and [teammates], one last trip … on the way to Sanford [Stadium] together, trying to play the best tunes we could.”
Bennett, an undersized prospect who is ranked No. 206 by Scouts Inc., also skipped out on the opportunity to meet with NFL teams and participate in the Shrine Bowl as well as the Senior Bowl. He chose to train for the combine and his pro day, in Dallas, instead.
He said Friday he was closer to going to the Shrine Bowl than the Senior Bowl.
“It was more so the Shrine Bowl, it wasn’t really the Senior Bowl,” Bennett said. “I really wanted to play in [the Shrine Bowl], there was a lot going at the moment. I discussed [it] with people that are close to me, best advice, decided it was, that I needed to go train, needed to get better.”
Bennett was also asked Friday about the death of teammate Devin Willock in a car crash in January in which a recruiting staff member was also killed. Former Georgia defensive lineman Jalen Carter briefly left the combine after being charged with reckless driving and racing in connection to the crash.
Bennett didn’t specifically address Carter or Willock, but after a long pause, he said, “There’s not much to say about that.”
Bennett said he has been truthful when asked about all of his off-field issues during his interviews with NFL teams at the combine.
“I just try to be honest,” Bennett said. ” … I tried to be honest with them.”
Bennett is expected to throw and do all of the drills Saturday at the combine during the on-field workout for the quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends.