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‘He’s a dawg’: Gunner Stockton stepping up as Georgia backup quarterback

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The transfer portal dealt Georgia a significant blow at quarterback, as backup Brock Vandagriff transferred to Kentucky. Vandagriff’s departure serves as an opportunity for Gunner Stockton, who will now get his chance to be the Bulldogs’ backup quarterback.

Stockton has bided his time in a deep quarterback room for Georgia but will be No. 2 on the depth chart behind Carson Beck going into the Orange Bowl on Dec. 30. The wait to play has likely not been easy for the former four-star prospect, but his teammates expect him to make the most of the added responsibility.

“I like Gunner. He stays levelheaded,” Georgia left tackle Earnest Greene said. “As a quarterback you've got to take over and lead, and I feel like he does well with that. I mean, I like Gunner, so I'm happy for him and to see that he's getting better just like everybody else we got.”

The 6-foot-1, 220-pound Stockton was seen as a top quarterback in the 2022 recruiting cycle and stood out as a big win for Georgia, which landed the Tiger, Georgia native over South Carolina and Auburn. Stockton has bided his time since then, though that doesn’t mean he hasn’t helped the Bulldogs along the way.

Stockton enrolled early at Georgia in 2022 and did not appear in a game that season, though he did help behind the scenes. Stockton was Georgia’s scout team quarterback and late in the year took on the challenge of mimicking Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud to prep for the Peach Bowl. Kirby Smart later said that Stockton asked to remove his non-contact jersey in order to fully prepare the Bulldogs for what they were about to face.

Stockton made his collegiate debut this season against UT Martin and went 3-of-5 through the air for 29 yards. He also played against Ball State and UAB and goes into the bowl game against Florida State with a 6-of-9 passing line for 52 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. He has also rushed 4 times for 17 yards.

Malaki Starks grew up playing against Stockton, and back in August the Georgia safety gave his breakdown of the young quarterback.

"I've been playing against Gunner since I was like 7 or 8 in rec league,” Starks said. “He's a great athlete, great quarterback, very talented. Just to see that transition from high school to college and what he's been doing now learning from all those other guys working with the game, it's been awesome.”

Stockton is closing in on his third season at Georgia, during which he’ll be a redshirt sophomore. It looks likely that he will be Beck’s backup in 2024 in a quarterback room that will also include true freshman Ryan Puglisi and potentially one more scholarship quarterback.

Like Beck before him, Stockton has stayed patient and waited for his chance to play a bigger role. He’s moved up the depth chart as a result, and teammates like tight end Oscar Delp expect him to take full advantage.

"He’s been my roommate for the past two years. I love the kid,” Delp said. “He's going to be a great player here. I'm excited for him. He's a dawg.”

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