Tuesday July 23rd, 2024 10:21AM

Rabun County's Stockton 'getting better' as Dogs hold first scrimmage

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter

ATHENS, Ga. — When Gunner Stockton graduated from Rabun County in 2021, there was no doubt he knew what he was doing on the football field.

After his four years leading the Wildcats at quarterback, he stood second all-time on the Georgia high school passing list with 13,652 yards (he’s now third) and his 177 career touchdown passes is still the standard to beat. The 2020 Rabun County squad averaged 50.7 points/game that season. In 2021 he threw for 55 touchdowns, tied for third-most in Georgia history for a season.

But the transition to big-time college football, especially in the Southeastern Conference, can be, and often is, a journey.

Now in this third season at Georgia, Stockton, a red-shirt sophomore, may be ready to turn the corner for the Bulldogs. Georgia coach Kirby Smart also hopes so, and he’s been keeping an eye on one of his top recruits of the 2022 season.

"Gunner has done a good job. I have seen growth in him,” Smart said during his talk with media following the Bulldogs first scrimmage inside Sanford Stadium on Tuesday. “He is getting a feel for our system. I have seen this progression with Gunner where he is getting better each and every practice. The bowl practices were great for him. The ability to play in that bowl game was awesome for him.”

Stockton came into the 2024 campaign as the assigned backup to Carson Beck. And while Smart acknowledged Stockton’s overall progress, he also said there is much progress still to be made for the guy who is just one play from leading a Bulldogs team that is expected to be a consensus No. 1 when the season opens in September.

“He is a really good athlete. I think he had a couple mistakes in the scrimmage, but he also played with much more consistency,” Smart said. “(Quarterback) is a hard position to play. He has, every now and then, a mistake that you can't have at that position.

“The good thing for him, you can ask him after the play, I always ask him, 'What did you see? What was the coverage?' He always gives the right answer.

“He is seeing the right things. (But) he has to continue to develop and grow.”

Georgia’s next scheduled scrimmage is set for Saturday. The Bulldogs’ annual G-Day Game is just 11 days away on April 13.

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