Max Duggan vs. Stetson Bennett: Two unorthodox journeys to the pinnacle of football

LOS ANGELES — Seven days have passed since the first day of this year College football The Playoff semifinals began with a magical twist: the unmistakable, unmistakable growl of famed UFC broadcaster Bruce Buffer. He ignited the crowd with his familiar stage from the end at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

“It’s Bruce Buffer!” said before Michigan close-ended Jake Butt, now an analyst for Big Ten Network, as his eyes widen from a perch overhead in the press box. Thousands of fans cheered.

When the game starts, Texas Christian Gallop out of Michigan to prolong Cinderella season by earning a slot Georgia, the defending national champion, and in doing so, Horned Frogs laid the groundwork for an unusual showdown between two shows that thrived behind their wealthy quarterbacks. It’s interesting to imagine how Buffer would introduce both signal callers:

First introduction, white and purple outer corner cock: A fighter holding a record of 13 wins, 1 loss. He lost a quarterback competition in fall camp and battled through two surgeries to correct a heart condition known as Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. The fans rejected him before they knew how to love him. He is 6 feet, 2 inches tall and weighs 210 pounds. Fight from Fort Worth, Texas, by heading to Council Bluffs, Iowa… presenting… Heisman Trophy runner-up and Davey O’Brien Award winner… Max Duuugggaaann!

And now, introducing the champion, fighting beyond the red and black corner: A grown man holding a record of 14 wins, no losses. He continued in Georgia for a season before leaving to attend junior college. He returned to the Bulldogs as a scholarship athlete and led them to a title win last season. He is 5 feet, 11 inches tall and weighs 190 pounds. Fighting from Athens, Georgia, through Blackshear, Georgia, and Ellisville, Mississippi… presents… the undisputed defending national champion… Stetson “25-year-old boy” Bennnnnnettttt!

Not quite the resume most people expect on the sport’s biggest stage.

But fun and jokes aside, the unorthodox paths both Duggan and Bennett have taken are against a recruiting industry obsessed with player rankings, star power, and awards. seven-on-seven has turned into Instagram’s usable cousins NFL reconnaissance complex, affectionately known as the Underwear Olympics. Their storybook progress from hindsight and as well as running to the higher levels of college football reinforces the amount of guesswork involved in extrapolating high school quarterbacks to the next level. And their combination of unwavering commitment and unwavering confidence in the face of unrelenting criticism shows just how important the mental side of midfield support really is – especially in the age of social media.

“I think the problem is with the ears, how well they handle pressure,” says TCU’s tight finish. Jared Wiley, a former high school defender. “Is that guy a winner? Is it hard to beat him because he’s just such an opponent? I think with midfield positions it’s very important to depend on the level of the game. Your readiness and what lies between the ears is more than just mechanical problems.”

So how did they get here?

TCU’s Max Duggan Wins Davey O’Brien Award

Duggan is a promising four-star player from the heart of the Big Ten country, who spent three seasons as a starter for TCU before first-year head coach Sonny Dykes placed him on the bench. Chandler Morris. He has ruled out transferring to another school to complete his studies at TCU, and teammates say there is no discernible difference in his behavior before and after the change in expression. depth map. When Morris was injured in the opening game of the season, Duggan regained his starting spot and quickly threw 3,546 yards and made a total of 40 touchdowns on his way to the national title match at SoFi Stadium. on Monday night. Now, Dykes says Duggan should be remembered in the pantheon of TCU football alongside the former midfielder Andy Dalton2010 team went undefeated and defeated Wisconsin in a bowl of roses.

Bennett, on the other hand, is a two-star player who grew up four hours southeast of Athens. He was rated by 247Sports Composite as the 2,569th overall prospect and received a scholarship from Colombia, South Georgia, Mercer and Central Tennessee State, pushed them aside to continue in Georgia. A freshman season comes and goes without many appearances for Bennett, who was one of four Bulldogs named Offensive Scouts Player of the Year, and that led to a decide to be modest: stay in Georgia and try to climb the depth charts without much playtime, or move elsewhere for more on-court iterations. He opted for the latter and in 2018 led Jones University to a 10-2 record of 1,840 yards and 16 touchdowns to earn a three-star rating as a prospect number 166 of the junior university.

Stetson Bennett dashes 64 yards for a touch

“His mom and he came to my office and said that he was leaving for college,” said head coach Kirby Smart, “and that he wanted to play, and he felt he had enough. good to play, and he wants to hang out And he knows there’s no guarantee he’ll play in our position next season, but he knows he can play (somewhere) if he He went to Mississippi (and had some experience).

“They sit there with complete confidence, and I have no doubts about him. I just don’t know if it’s in Georgia (where he’s going to get his chance). And the belief that they have. maybe sitting in my office should have.” said, ‘There’s something special about this guy.'”

At the LA Convention Center, where the CFP hosted its media day event, a variety of quarterbacks and coaches offered various explanations for how players like Duggan and Bennett – each of which are now the motive behind his team’s success; each of them was invited to New York City last month as a Heisman Trophy Finalist – possibly being omitted in the hiring process and then again omitted on its shows. themselves after going to school.

Some point to philosophical differences between coaches known to have had the patience to develop midfielders over the course of several seasons, and others who rely primarily on prospects they believe are the best. choose support when you are still a junior. Some mention a larger gap in instructional caliber from one high school team to another, the distinction further complicated by quarterbacks whose families can afford additional private instruction. fig. Others noted the problems posed by COVID-19, as some states canceled high school football while others did not, which produced very different experienced quarterbacks. despite the identical ratings.

But the reason most often cited by the Bulldogs and Horned Frogs is how difficult it is to predict the kind of unshakable willpower their current quarterbacks have, which is the uncanny ability to “turn up the heat.” degree of the room” just by being in it, as Dykes explained when asked what makes Duggan so special.

It was moxie Bennett who completed 12 of 14 207-yard passes and two touchdowns to erase a second-half goal against Ohio State. It was the explosive effort Duggan called up in the penalty shootout win over Michigan as he made four of his team’s five offensive touchdowns a week after shedding blood in a narrow loss at the World Cup. final. large 12 game title.

“If you get that, it’s going to help a lot in college football,” said Garrett Riley, TCU’s offensive coordinator. it doesn’t matter what school you go to. So if you have someone who’s mentally strong, mentally tough and understands those things, that’s going to bring a lot of value in the hiring section.”

The challenge, of course, is figuring it out.

Michael Cohen covers college football and basketball for FOX Sports with a focus on the Big Ten. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Cohen13.

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