Georgia’s Justin Shaffer solid in Senior Bowl, shares favorite moment of championship season

Outgoing Georgia offensive lineman Justin Shaffer had his family present to support him at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., last week.
Justin Sha

MOBILE, Ala. -- Justin Shaffer provided some telling and fun insight to the 2021 national championship Georgia football team leading up to his final collegiate performance representing the Bulldogs.

Shaffer ran alongside teammate Jamaree Salyer on the “American” Team offensive line during the Senior Bowl on Saturday in Mobile, Ala., but outgoing UGA players enjoying solid outings at Hancock Whitney Stadium

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Next, it will be on to the NFL combine (March 1-6) in Indianapolis for Shaffer and the 15 Bulldogs holding draft grades.

Shaffer will have a lifetime to look back on what he and his teammates accomplished, helping to lead Georgia to its first national championship since 1980.

As is, Shaffer said he has a “little extra pep in his step, walking around knowing I’m a national champion.”

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It took a lot of hard work and buy-in, and that’s where Shaffer’s mind went when asked his favorite memory from the season.

“Florida week, we had a practice and we had a lot of scouts there, and we knew coming in with Florida, we had a good opponent,” Shaffer said. “So coming out in practice that Tuesday, everyone came out with high energy.

“We had one play in team period, (and) one of the DBs came and hit one of our running backs out of bounds, and the whole offensive linemen came and jumped up on them.

“The whole starting offensive line cared, and it showed it meant a lot to them.”

Shaffer’s passion was noticed, and the following week, he was named a game captain for the Missouri contest.

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Shaffer’s toughness was never questioned. It was Shaffer who bounced back from a serious neck injury in the 2019 season to win a starting spot on the 2020 football team.

There were plenty of hard days along the way, but Shaffer’s teammates kept him motivated, and Shaffer continued to grow and mature as a person along with several others from the program’s celebrated recruiting classes.

Coach Kirby Smart said throughout the season that the team’s bond with one another was one thing that separated the 2021 Bulldogs from other Georgia teams before it.

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Shaffer was one of the so-called “Super Seniors” who used the extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA after COVID affected the 2020 campaign.

The 6-foot-4, 330-pounder raised his NFL draft stock in the process of staying a fifth season, to the extent one NFL personnel manager said Shaffer’s stock is fourth round or higher.

Shaffer used Senior Bowl week to acclimate himself with an NFL playbook, as the American team was coached by the Detroit Lions’ staff.

Already, Shaffer said, he knew how important it was to be able to adapt to different styles of coaching.

‘Going into college I had coach (Sam) Pittman, and I was thinking he could be there the whole time,” Shaffer said. “But he moved on to bigger an better things, and you know it could be the same way in the league.

“You could have one coach one year, and then the next year another coach. So that was an experience for me learning how to regroup and collect and take in information differently.”

Shaffer said there were some similarities between Pittman and new offensive line coach Matt Luke, but one notable difference.

Luke’s energy.

“Coach Pittman was more technical, (but) Coach Luke had more high energy, but still technical,” Shaffer said. “We’d be in this down period and have a fade ball to the receiver, and you’d see Coach Luke running down the field celebrating with the receivers.”

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