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For Georgia quarterback Carson Beck, being boring isn't a bad thing

Nobody has ever accused Georgia quarterback Carson Beck of going full "Tin Cup" and playing with go-for-broke style on the football field.

If anything, he prides himself on being boring. Yes, boring.

"If you watch guys like Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and some of the greats, during those moments when you just couldn't stop them, it's because they're always in the right place with the ball at the right time," Beck said. "Sometimes it's boring to watch, but it wins football games.

"I mean, obviously, it's cool to do something spectacular, but I'm out there to win. And when you have the kind of talent I have around me at the University of Georgia, it's about moving the ball down the field, getting first downs and throwing touchdowns. That's the name of the game, and if it's boring, I'll take it."

And yet, there is a little gunslinger in Beck, whose competitive fires burn deep but not always outwardly. His lifelong friend, Brendon Quinn, said Beck is hardly afraid to "go for the green" when the time is right.

Case in point: They were playing golf at Quinn's home course, Queen's Harbour Yacht and Country Club in Jacksonville, Florida, a few years ago and came to the 17th hole, a 525-yard, par-5 dogleg left with a large water hazard about 260 yards from the tee box.

Beck casually pulled out his driver. He might as well have been standing in the pocket, getting ready to deliver a strike on a crossing route as he addressed his ball.

It's gotta be 300 yards to clear the water," Quinn told Beck.

Beck nodded and replied, "I know, but I'm going to hit driver and don't really care where it goes."

The ball shot off Beck's club and disappeared.

"We're all thinking it was a bad shot, that there's no way it got over," Quinn said. "Then we get on the other side of the water, and there it is sitting in the middle of the fairway, probably 310 yards. I'm like, 'There's literally no way he hit that ball,' and he was like he always is -- calm.

“Nothing ever gets to him, good or bad."

For the record, Beck birdied the hole. He hit a 7-iron into the green and two-putted.

Once again, ho-hum. Fairways and greens. First downs and touchdowns.

"Carson's been that person since he got here," Georgia senior linebacker Smael Mondon Jr . said. "He's always chill, always calm, always in control. The main thing is that he has confidence in himself, and he had that same confidence even before he played [here], before the whole world got to see him do it."

EVEN FOR BECK, it's surreal how much his world has changed in less than a year. He was the proverbial mop-up quarterback his first three seasons on the Georgia campus and attempted just 58 passes. He watched from the sideline as Stetson Bennett led the Bulldogs to back-to-back national championships in 2021 and 2022.

In August, when preseason camp began, Beck still hadn't been named the Bulldogs' starting quarterback, as he was competing for the job with Brock Vandagriff and Gunner Stockton .

It was assumed that I was going to be the starter, but nothing was set in stone," Beck said. "My only focus was competing every day. I still have that same mindset, but it's more a competing-against-myself type of thing now. How can I be better so that everybody else around me is better?

"Respect is always earned, and trust is always earned. And for me, to be able to do that my first season as a starter, to earn the respect and have the trust of my teammates, was everything."

As Georgia prepares for its spring game Saturday at Sanford Stadium, Beck has gone from fighting to be the guy who replaces Bennett eight months ago to one of the preseason favorites to win the Heisman Trophy and potentially the top quarterback taken in the 2025 NFL draft.

One NFL director of college scouting told ESPN that the 6-foot-4, 220-pound Beck was probably the No. 1 quarterback prospect at this point.

"He has all the tools -- size, the athletic ability to operate in or out of the pocket, a big arm, can drive the ball into tight windows or throw with touch," the scout said. "He also got better throughout the year."

Beck passed for 3,941 yards last season, the third most of any FBS quarterback. He threw 24 touchdown passes and just six interceptions and also rushed for four touchdowns. His 72.4 completion percentage was a school record. He could have entered the NFL draft this year, but announced in mid-December that he was returning to Georgia .

"There was more I wanted to do here, more that this team can accomplish," Beck said. "I'd worked hard to get to this point and waited my turn. I didn't leave earlier when maybe I had chances to transfer, so I sure wasn't going to leave now."

His patience is rare in today's college game, especially at the quarterback position, as more than 50% of last year's FBS starters had transferred at least once in their careers. As an early enrollee in 2020, Beck was part of a Georgia quarterback room that included USC transfer JT Daniels , Wake Forest transfer Jamie Newman, junior college transfer Bennett and redshirt freshman D'Wan Mathis . Through it all, Beck remained confident his time would come, and when it did, he knew he would be ready.

"If you're scared of competition at Georgia, then you're at the wrong place," Beck said.

Georgia coach Kirby Smart has pointed out several times that Beck was actually ahead of Bennett on the depth chart entering the 2021 season, when Daniels opened as the starter against Clemson. But when Daniels suffered an oblique injury, the Bulldogs turned to Bennett and not Beck to start against UAB. Bennett threw five touchdown passes and the rest, as they say, is history.

"Even then, Carson never really flinched," Quinn said. "Yeah, he wanted to play and felt like he was good enough to play, but I've never known him to run from a challenge, and he wasn't going to then."

Similarly, Beck never flinched last season in taking over for Bennett and leading the Bulldogs to their third straight unbeaten regular season. Smart acknowledged the staff probably tried to protect him too much at the beginning of the season, but it soon became obvious Beck had everything he needed, mentally and physically, to take on whatever load offensive coordinator Mike Bobo wanted to place on him. At that point, the training wheels came off, which was never more apparent than the 27-20 comeback win over Auburn in Week 5.

In his first road start, Beck passed for 236 yards in the second half and threw the winning touchdown to Brock Bowers , all after the Bulldogs' first possession of the second half ended in a fumble. Late in the fourth quarter, they had managed just 180 total yards before Beck led them on a tying, 98-yard touchdown drive.

"You've got to find calm in the chaos because, I mean, it can get chaotic out there, especially on the road," Beck said.

Smart admitted it was difficult at times to gauge Beck's inner fire because he is so cool and collected. Smart refers to Beck as "Mr. Mellow" because of his uncanny ability to never get rattled.

"He's almost flatlined out there, non-emotional to the point that sometimes it drives me nuts because I'm the exact opposite," Smart said. "Me and Bobo are strung so tightly as high school coaches' kids, and then there's this guy that throws touchdowns, throws an interception, and it's the same.

"But it's also his strength because when he does something wrong in a game, he's not affected by it. He has great composure. You don't want to blitz this guy because he just steps up and throws. He's not afraid of anything. So many quarterbacks are not good because they're worried about everything, like an emotional roller coaster.

"With Carson, sometimes I don't know if his heart is beating."

But just because Beck personifies "chill," that doesn't mean he's adverse to mixing it up physically. Of all the winning plays Beck made last season for the Bulldogs, one that remains etched in Smart's mind is a tackle.

Beck threw an interception in the fourth quarter of Georgia's 37-20 win over Vanderbilt, and the Commodores' CJ Taylor was racing down the left sideline for what looked to be an easy touchdown. Out of nowhere, Beck came flying in with a bone-jarring shoulder tackle to knock Taylor out of bounds at the 1-yard line and also knock the Vandy defender out of the game.

"I mean, he knocks the living dogs--- out of the guy," Smart said. "That's Carson and a big reason the guys in the locker room love him."

BECK IS THE antithesis of showy on the football field. That holds true off it as well, although he did treat himself this offseason to a new Lamborghini thanks to some lucrative NIL deals.

With his newfound fame, he has a hard time going anywhere in public without being besieged by autograph seekers, fans wanting pictures or simply people wanting to hang out with Georgia's newest star quarterback. Beck joked that his DoorDash bill has increased exponentially.

"It's different, but I'm always going to sign or take a picture if someone wants to," Beck said. "It's part of being a quarterback in the SEC. I remind myself of that, that a lot of people would love to be in this position."

Beck, 21, has been able to insulate himself with help from some longtime friends from the Jacksonville area. None of his four roommates, including Quinn, play football. Quinn moved to Athens in February and is an online student at Florida, Georgia's bitter rival. The two have known each other since they were toddlers, when their parents were neighbors. Two other close friends, Cole Macklin and Zach Postlethwait, are set to move in for Beck's final season. Postlethwait is finishing up school at Florida State.

Quinn grew up a Florida fan, but wore Georgia gear at last year's game and will again this year. But after that, he's joked with Beck that he's burning his Georgia apparel.

"It's cool to live with guys you've known pretty much your whole life," Beck said. "They know you in a way that you're not just a football player, guys you can confide in. There's a point where it's too much football and you need time with different people."

One of their escapes is golf, something Beck really got into around the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. But Quinn can't remember a sport (or anything, for that matter) that Beck didn't excel at when they were growing up.

Beck initially committed to play baseball at Florida as a sophomore in high school. He was a pitcher with a big-time arm, but realized his future was in football.

"I guess baseball sort of got boring," Beck said, flashing a sheepish smile.

He later committed to Alabama for football before ultimately landing with Georgia despite Florida making another strong push.

"I couldn't say no to Kirby Smart and a chance to play for a Georgia program I knew was on the verge of big things," Beck said.

Quinn was convinced his friend also was on the verge of big things. They've competed against or with each other in everything from youth baseball to video games. Quinn moved to Colorado for six years when he was 10, but the two quickly reconnected when Quinn returned to Florida.

And even as they grew older, Quinn said Beck was still intent on making everything a competition. By the time Beck enrolled at Georgia, Quinn had become proficient at solving a Rubik's Cube in less than a minute. Within a couple of weeks, he and Beck were having competitions to see who could solve one faster.

"He got me the majority of time, but I held my own," Quinn said. "That just shows you how smart he is and how quickly he processes things, qualities all the great quarterbacks have."

Beck flashed that greatness often last season and was at his best against the best teams. He was 5-1 against top-20 opponents with a 73.9 completion percentage, 1,693 passing yards, 13 touchdowns and just two interceptions.

Former Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, the SEC's leader in career passing yards (13,166) and touchdown passes (121), has been high on Beck since he stepped on campus. Murray remembers a conversation he had with Bobo, also a former Georgia quarterback, when Bobo returned to the program as an analyst in 2022.

"This kid is the real deal. He throws the ball so effortlessly," Bobo told Murray.

Murray didn't need to be sold.

"Oh, I know. When he gets his chance, he's going to be a superstar," Murray, a college football analyst for ESPN, responded.

The best news for Georgia fans, Murray said, is there's a lot more out there for Beck, who had the No. 4 passing grade among all FBS quarterbacks last season by Pro Football Focus. The top two were Bo Nix and Jayden Daniels .

Murray heard some of the frustration from Georgia fans early last season that Beck didn't take enough shots downfield and seemed content to work the shorter routes.

"But his understanding of how to play the position of quarterback was so impressive," Murray said, "especially as a first-year starter, and being savvy enough to take the checkdown, make the shorter throws and not hang on and hang on until all hell breaks loose.

"At the same time, you can't play the quarterback position if you're afraid to make mistakes. You have to take chances, smart chances, calculated chances at certain times. That comes from experience, and I think you'll see Carson continue to take completions, understand he's got a great team around him, but also be a little riskier at certain points of the game and create more explosive plays."

Beck has heard the narrative that he will have to do even more this season, especially with the loss of his top target (tight end Bowers), three of the team's top four pass-catchers and the Bulldogs' top two rushers from a year ago.

Granted, there's no replacing an automatic first down like Bowers, but Beck is eager to hit the field Aug. 31 against Clemson with his new supporting cast. He thinks transfer receivers Dominic Lovett and Rara Thomas will be even better in their second seasons in the system, and even though Bowers is headed to the NFL, there won't be any shortage of talent at the tight end position with Oscar Delp , Lawson Luckie and Stanford transfer Ben Yurosek . Moreover, this could be one of Smart's best offensive lines at Georgia.

"All I can tell you is what I've seen this spring, and I'm super excited about what these guys are going to bring to the table, especially in our second year together with Coach Bobo," Beck said. "Brock Bowers may not be out there, but how many Brock Bowers are out there, period."

Beck still winces at the mention of the Bulldogs' loss to Alabama in the SEC championship game last season, which kept Georgia from pursuing a historic third straight national title. He refused to watch any of the College Football Playoff games. The team flew back to Athens after the 63-3 dismantling of Florida State in the Capital One Orange Bowl on Dec. 30, and Beck was back home in Jacksonville by New Year's Day.

He was in no mood to watch football. He even left a friend's house because they were all watching the playoff games. He returned to his house, fell asleep and said he didn't even look at social media for updates.

"Just couldn't do it," Beck said. "Didn't care. Didn't want to watch. I was so mad. I felt like we should have been there. We didn't play our best game and put it in the committee's hands. I was pissed off. We all were, and that's the way we've gone about our business ever since."

Amid all the talk following the loss to Alabama about whether Beck would turn pro, plus chatter about his new Lamborghini and the NIL money he was raking in, Beck never lost sight of why he came to Georgia in the first place.

Sure, the perks are nice, but winning is even better.

"I'm pretty miserable when I lose at anything," Beck said.

Quinn has seen all sides of Beck for the better part of the past two decades. He hears the wide range of adjectives to describe his buddy -- mellow, ultracompetitive, boring, low key, unflappable -- and adds his own.

Resolute.

"There's a lot going on around Carson right now, a lot he has to deal with," Quinn said. "People talk about the Lamborghini, his NIL deals, all that outside stuff. Carson's here to play football. He's not here for anything else.

"He wants to win a national championship, have a chance to go to the NFL and maybe win a Heisman Trophy. Those are his goals, and I'd say in that order."

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