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Georgia football offensive tackle Jamaree Salyer on facing Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson: ‘I want his best’

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Georgia offensive lineman Jamaree Salyer (69) before the Bulldogs’ game against Vanderbilt at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. (Photo by Tony Walsh)
Tony Walsh

Georgia offensive lineman Jamaree Salyer knows there’s no hiding from Michigan’s pass-rushing duo of Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo.

The Georgia offensive tackle remarked that he’s been hearing both of their names for about a month now, with good reason. Ojabo picked up 11.0 sacks this season. Hutchinson topped him with 14.0, earning a second-place finish in Heisman Trophy voting.

“I’m excited to be able to spot the ball and go play. It’s exciting,” Salyer said. “I’m sure they’re excited to play me as I am to play them. We’ve got great talent, they’ve got great talent, and we’ve both played great talent all year, so best on best, we’re excited for it.”

Of course, Hutchinson and Ojabo aren’t the first elite pass rushers Salyer will have seen this season. Playing the SEC has helped him prepare for that. In his last game, Salyer matched up against Alabama’s Will Anderson, who was even more productive this year than Hutchinson as Anderson led the country in both sacks and tackles for loss.

Salyer also had to block Anderson while playing on a bad foot. That injury forced Salyer to miss four games and limited his practice availability before the game.

A month off seems to have done Salyer some good, as Kirby Smart noted the All-SEC offensive tackle is about as healthy as he can be at this point in the year.

“There’s really no way in the middle of a season, even with this break, to get 100 percent, but at the end of the day these guys are fighters,” Smart said of Salyer and Chris Smith. “They’re two of our leaders on our team, and they fought back. We’ve had to be smart with the number of reps we give them.”

Salyer added that his body feels good, with the warm Miami weather and extra rehab time playing a part in his recovery.

That Salyer finds himself in this position isn’t much of a surprise given his talent and work ethic. A strong performance against Hutchinson and Ojabo will only further cement his NFL draft stock.

But few would’ve thought that Salyer would be the one lining up at left tackle at this point in the season. He knows he doesn’t have the ideal size to play left tackle, such as his former Georgia and high school teammate Andrew Thomas.

That’s forced Salyer to grind and work even harder. Something the Atlanta native is very comfortable with.

“Everything requires work,” Salyer said. “Everything requires strain and effort and perfecting your craft. I go every day trying to attack that goal and be the best that I can be. Yeah, I think that’s kind of helped me out just to propel me where other people would think I would fall.”

Salyer talked a lot about being the best in his press conference on Wednesday. Playing in the College Football Playoff will bring that out. Especially after a game against Alabama where the Georgia offense did not have a day to remember. The Bulldogs ran for 109 yards on 30 and scored just seven points in the second half of a 41-24 loss.

“You want to play against the best,” Smart said. “You want to be measured against the best, and that’s what the playoffs allow you to do.”

Hutchinson wasn’t asked about Salyer specifically as the inverse was the case when Salyer spoke. But Hutchinson made it clear what Michigan’s defensive intentions were.

“First things first, we’ve got to stop that run game,” Hutchinson said. “That’s definitely the point of emphasis, and then get them to 3rd-and-long and let us rush the passer and get after it.”

That is why Salyer and the Georgia offensive line will need to shine in both the ground game and in pass protection.

Georgia will need a healthy Salyer, along with Justin Shaffer, Sedrick Van Pran, Warren Ericson and Warren McClendon, to be at his best on Friday.

Salyer himself is looking forward to the opportunity to do so.

“I want his best,” Salyer said. “I know he wants my best. So I’m excited for the match-up because he’s a great player. We’re just competitors. That’s what we are, and that’s what makes us great.”

Jamaree Salyer excited to face Michigan pass rush

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