Bennett could lose Georgia starting QB job even if healthy

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback Stetson Bennett‘s status as No. 12 Georgia’s starter is uncertain even if he recovers from a shoulder injury in time to play Saturday at Missouri.

Bennett has started the last five games, including last week’s 44-28 loss to No. 6 Florida that knocked the Bulldogs (4-2) out of the lead in the Southeastern Conference’s Eastern Division.

Bennett suffered an AC sprain in his right shoulder in the loss to the Gators. The injury could force Bennett to miss one or more games. Passing woes also threaten his starting job.

Coach Kirby Smart Monday wouldn’t say if the junior would keep the starting job even if Bennett is healthy.

“That is a great question, great question, only to be answered by the end of the week,” Smart said.

Bennett completed only 5 of 16 passes for 78 yards with a touchdown and an interception against Florida. Smart said lack of accuracy was the biggest problem in the passing game.

Bennett threw three interceptions in Georgia’s 41-24 loss to No. 1 Alabama on Oct. 17. Smart gave D'Wan Mathis and Southern California transfer JT Daniels snaps with the first-team offense during an open week after the loss to Alabama but stuck with Stetson as the starter.

Mathis, Daniels and freshman Carson Beck will have renewed opportunities this week.

Smart said Daniels is moving better following his recovery from knee surgery which ended his 2019 season at USC.

Daniels’ knee prevented him from pushing Mathis and Bennett at the start of the season, but his potential to boost Georgia’s passing game could be his path to his long-awaited 2020 debut.

“JT’s got a good arm, there’s no doubt about that,” Smart said. “It’s one of the deals that he is getting better and better every day with mobility. You feel good that he is able to move around and do some things down there with us. Again, he’s going to get some reps with Stetson out, and we’ll find out where he is.”

Smart said Daniels volunteered to work on the scout-team offense so he could have more practice against Georgia’s first-team defense. Cornerback Eric Stokes said he has seen Daniels gain confidence in his knee.

“He’s just starting to believe in his knee,” Stokes said. “… I’m seeing his progress as far as picking up coverages and knowledge and all that stuff. ”

Mathis completed only 4 of 13 passes for 34 yards with two interceptions and one touchdown against Florida. Smart said Mathis must complete a higher percentage of passes.

“He’s got to improve that,” Smart said. “The number two thing is the management of the offense, in terms of play-call, communication, motion-shifts, snap-count, a lot of things in that nature, which he has improved on.”

The renewed questions about who will take snaps against Missouri come as former Georgia quarterback Justin Fields is thriving as a leading Heisman Trophy candidate at No. 3 Ohio State. Fields transferred in 2019 when Smart stuck with Jake Fromm as Georgia’s starter.

Fields didn’t want to wait for his opportunity at Georgia. Removing Fromm, who won 35 games in three seasons, from the starting job would have been an extremely difficult decision for Smart.

Georgia has a long list of injury woes, including at wide receiver. George Pickens missed the game with an undisclosed injury, and Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint suffered a season-ending ankle injury after having a touchdown catch. Smart said Rosemy-Jacksaint had surgery on the ankle Monday morning and is expected to make a full recovery.

Safety Lewis Cine suffered a concussion in the loss. Running back Kendall Milton suffered a sprained knee and is expected to miss at least three weeks. Georgia already was without nose tackle Jordan Davis (elbow), safety Richard LeCounte (motorcycle accident) and defensive tackle Julian Rochester (knee).

Vick, Fitzgerald and Suggs among stars on College Football Hall of Fame ballot for 1st time

RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Vick, Larry Fitzgerald and Terrell Suggs are among the college football stars who will be considered for induction to the Hall of Fame for the first time this year.

The National Football Foundation released Monday a list of 78 players and nine coaches from major college football who are on the Hall of Fame ballot. There also are 101 players and 32 coaches from lower divisions of college football up for consideration.

Vick, who led Virginia Tech to the BCS championship game against Florida State as a redshirt freshman in 1999, is among the most notable players appearing on the ballot in his first year of eligibility.

Vick finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1999. He played one season of college football before being drafted No. 1 overall by the Atlanta Falcons in 2001. Vick’s professional career was interrupted when he served 21 months in prison for his involvement in dog fighting.

Fitzgerald was the Heisman runner-up in 2003 to Oklahoma quarterback Jason White. He scored 34 touchdowns in just two seasons at Pitt.

Suggs led the nation in sacks with 24 in 2002 for Arizona State.

The 2024 Hall of Fame class will be chosen by the National Football Foundation’s Honors Court and announced in January. Induction into the Atlanta-based hall is the following December.

Alabama freshman DB Mitchell says he wasn’t sure he’d get to play again after arrest

Mickey Welsh / Advertiser / USA TODAY NETWORK
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama defensive back Tony Mitchell said he feared his football career was over after his arrest on a drug charge.

The Crimson Tide freshman said in a video posted Sunday on social media that he knew “something much bigger could have happened.”

A judge in Holmes County, Florida, sentenced Mitchell to three years of probation with a fine and community service on May 24 after Mitchell pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of more than 20 grams of cannabis.

“I didn’t know if I’d be able to play football again, but I continued to work out and stay close with the Lord and those who love me unconditionally,” Mitchell said. “During those times, it helped me to keep my mind off it. But when I was by myself looking at social media, what everybody had to say about it, it just felt like it happened again.

“I didn’t sleep at night.”

He was suspended from the Alabama team following the arrest, but Mitchell’s father, Tony Sr., posted on Facebook last week that the defensive back had been reinstated. An Alabama spokesman declined to comment on Mitchell’s status.

Tony Mitchell Sr. shared his son’s video on Facebook, saying it was filmed during a talk to youth.

“I was doing things I knew I shouldn’t to try to fit in,” the younger Mitchell said, “but not everybody’s your friend.”

Mitchell, who is from Alabaster, Alabama, was a four-star prospect and the 15th-rated safety in the 247Composite rankings.

He had been charged in March with possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell after a traffic stop when authorities said he drove over 141 mph (227 kph) while trying to evade deputies in the Florida Panhandle. A deputy had spotted Mitchell’s black Dodge Challenger traveling 78 mph (125 kph) in a 55 mph (88 kph) zone on a rural highway north of Bonifay.

He also received 100 hours of community service and paid a fine of $1,560.

Mitchell and a passenger were both charged with possession of marijuana with the intent to sell or deliver, according to a Holmes County Sheriff’s Office arrest report. The other man also was charged with carrying a concealed gun without a permit.