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Kirby Smart breaks down highly-anticipated UGA quarterback battle

Head coach Kirby Smart helped clear up what that battle looked like Tuesday, and hinted that it may just be between two guys for now.

ATHENS, Ga. — Believe it or not, UGA football is back in action.

Just a little more than two months since capturing their second consecutive National Championship, the Bulldogs began spring practice Tuesday heading in a bit of a different direction than the previous two seasons.

The topic of the first practice was all about who will be behind center for the Bulldogs in 2023 following the departure of Stetson Bennett to the NFL Draft. As many UGA fans know, it felt like a three-horse race coming into this spring in a tight competition between Carson Beck, Brock Vandagriff and Gunner Stockton.

Head coach Kirby Smart helped clear up what that battle looked like Tuesday, and hinted that it may just be between two guys for now.

"I do look forward to Carson and Brock getting a lot of that action, they'll both rep with the ones," Smart said. "As far as how much, that'll play itself out over the course of the spring. Gunner has come a long way. I'm excited to see what those guys can do."

Beck opens the spring as the favorite to win the battle -- simply due to the fact he received all immediate backup reps to Bennett during the 2022 season. The redshirt junior impressed in limited action last year, completing 26 of 35 passes for 310 yards and four touchdowns.

Vandagriff, a local Athenian and graduate of Prince Avenue Christian School, enrolled in UGA in 2021 and redshirted during his freshman campaign. He saw limited action in 2022, where he only attempted one pass in three games he entered following Beck. The 6-foot 3-inch gunslinger was ranked by ESPN as the fifth-best quarterback prospect coming out of the 2020 class.

"It's hard to say, the differences in those two. I don't think people give Carson enough credit for being a good athlete, he was a really good baseball player, he has great movement skills, he's not going to run as fast as Stetson," Smart said. "I think Brock is a good athlete, he can see the field. Carson has probably played a little more, but both those guys are good."

The other piece of the pie is redshirt freshman Gunner Stockton. Ranked as the No. 4 dual-threat QB prospect by ESPN coming out of Rabun County High School in northeast Georgia in 2021, Stockton's mobility was a key reason many teams were all over him coming out of high school. 

Stockton served on UGA's scout team as he redshirted during his true freshman year. Now, he hopes to defeat the odds and win the quarterback competition in his first collegiate year.

"Look, I wouldn't count Gunner Stockton out of this thing because this kid's talented, smart. I got to see him on the scouting team the entire year and really got to see him grow," Smart said.

Even though former offensive coordinator Todd Monken departed for the NFL for the same job with the Baltimore Ravens, he gave Smart some words of confidence in the quarterback room he has now before he left.

"When Monken left, I asked him about where he thought our quarterback room was, he was very adamant that we have three really talented, young quarterbacks and Mike [Bobo] inheriting that room certainly feels that way too," Smart said. "So, I'm excited about those guys."

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