This Saturday, just about every Georgia offensive lineman that will see the field for Georgia will be playing against the man that recruited them to come to the school.
The likes of Jamaree Salyer, Trey Hill and the rest of Georgia’s new-look offensive line will be facing off against a defense and team now led by Sam Pittman. He served as the offensive line coach at Georgia for Kirby Smart’s first four years in charge of the program before departing for the Arkansas head coaching job in December.
Pittman was one of the best offensive line coaches in the country and he quickly helped turn the Georgia offensive line into a strength of the program. This past NFL Draft saw two of his players get drafted in the first round and another go in the fourth round.
The Bulldogs do have a re-made offensive line this year, with the group now led by Matt Luke, a coach that is similarly beloved by former players.
And while for many teams replacing a top position coach and four players with significant starting experience would seem like a challenge, the offensive line built by Pittman doesn’t seem like a weakness for this Georgia team.
“He was well-loved all around the building,” offensive lineman Warren Ericson said. “I think he has his own techniques and everything he taught us has stuck with me.”
Many have praised Pittman’s skills as a teacher but more than that his former players very quickly bring up the emotional bond and love they have for Pittman. They praise the family atmosphere he created within the position group.
He also made his jovial attitude very clear on social media as he would often celebrate a commitment with an iconic “Yesssir” video.
“I respected just how family-oriented he was and his energy on and off the field. What you got on the field is what you got off the field,” Hill said. “The way he takes care of his players and the love and support he gives them [stands out].”
That family-first approach is big reason why he’s able to connect and make an impact on so many Georgia players. It’s why so many are still rooting for him and want to see him succeed as a head coach at Arkansas.
“I got a lot of love for Coach Pitt. I’d tell him that right now if I could talk to him,” Jamaree Salyer said. “Of course, I love to compete against him. He poured t a lot into me while he was here. I got better.”
Salyer was the No. 1 rated guard in the country and could’ve played anywhere. But he chose Athens in part because of Pittman. He recalled a story on a recruiting visit where Pittman was where some pants that didn’t quite fit. Salyer didn’t think they were exactly Pittman’s style.
The next time Salyer saw Pittman, he asked him about those pants. Salyer told reporters that Pittman told him that he burned, which brought a smile and laugh to Salyer’s face.
Salyer is now set to be Georgia’s next left tackle and fill the shoes of his friend Andrew Thomas. Pittman helped make Thomas the highest-drafted offensive lineman in program history, as he was taken with the No. 4 overall pick by the New York Giants.
Salyer wasn’t upset with Pittman’s decision to leave, as the Bulldog understood it was a huge opportunity for Pittman.
Pittman was asked about leaving Georgia this week as well as his time with the program. Due to the need to recruit, something Smart drilled into him, he didn’t get a chance to get in front of his offensive linemen and give a proper goodbye.
He’ll be seeing those players, like Salyer and Hill and Ericson on Saturday. And while they’ll be opponents on the field, Pittman and his former players still very much care for each other.
“I sent them all a text and talked about how much they meant to me,” Pittman said on the SEC Coaches Teleconference. “I’ll be honest with you, I’m a crier and if I had to step in front of them I would’ve balled my eyes out. I love those guys to this day.”
Georgia OL Jamaree Salyer talks Arkansas, Georgia football and Sam Pittman
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