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Jamaree Salyer explains why it’s so important to him to play for UGA this season

Like many during the months where COVID-19 has affected the country, Georgia offensive lineman Jamaree Salyer wanted to take the time to lose some weight and better himself. He was hardly the only one to do so, as his own head coach even had a publicized weight loss completion.

But few had a more noticeable weight drop as Salyer. The junior offensive lineman, who weighed as much as 345 pounds during parts of the 2019 season, got all the way down to 309 pounds.

Beyond just wanting to be healthier, there was another reason Salyer made such an effort to slim down.

“For me, I just knew that the weight thing was going to be a big contributor to where I could be,” Salyer said. “It would raise my potential and that was kind of my goal going into quarantine. To raise my potential, to raise the bar for myself. Knowing that I can play guard, that I can play tackle, that I can play anything.

“I knew that I could play all of those positions at a much higher level if I lost the weight.”

Related: Jamaree Salyer has been one of the big winners of Georgia’s offseason

Salyer estimates he lost around 20 pounds since March, with him now entering fall practices at 315 pounds. That lower weight should enable him to display more athleticism at whatever position Georgia lines him up at.

There’s a strong feeling that it could be left tackle, as Georgia needs to replace Andrew Thomas, who was taken with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Georgia also must replace Isaiah Wilson, who the Tennessee Titans took with the No. 29 overall pick.

Salyer spent the offseason training with Thomas, as the two have a close relationship dating back to their time as teammates at Pace Academy in Atlanta. As a member of the 2018 signing class, Salyer came from Pace Academy as a 5-star prospect, rated higher than both Wilson and Thomas as a recruit.

But because of the talent on the Georgia offensive line, Salyer couldn’t find a starting spot. When Thomas and Wilson sat out the Sugar Bowl against Baylor, it gave Salyer his first chance to start.

He played well at right tackle in the Georgia win, and it offered a potential glimpse of what he could do while taking on a more prominent role.

Salyer now pretty clearly has that opportunity on a full-time basis, which is why he so badly wants a chance to play this season and show off his talents.

“I put a lot into this season and for me, I feel like you guys and everybody else deserves to see the work that I put in,” Salyer said. “Because I know what I can do and I’m excited for this season.

“It’s the opportunity that I’ve been waiting for and being a guy who was here for two years and sitting behind two great players, two first-rounders, this is the season for me to go out and prove myself and do a lot of things people say I can’t do.”

Salyer has already emerged as a leader on both the new-look offensive line and on the team in general. Teammate Trey Hill recognized Salyer as a hard worker and add that Salyer’s own weight loss inspired him as well.

“It actually drove me a lot,” Hill said. During the offseason, seeing him working hard, me and talking to each during the quarantine. Just basically having a weight loss competition.”

Georgia will be running a new offense this year with Todd Monken as the offensive coordinator. They also have a new offensive line coach in Matt Luke, as Sam Pittman is now the head coach at Arkansas.

Hill acknowledged that one of the reasons for losing weight —10 to 15 pounds in Hill’s case — was so that he could play faster. Under Pittman, Georgia’s offensive linemen were known for being able to overpower other teams, as opposed to trying to beat them with athleticism.

As for the process of losing the weight, Salyer shared his secrets. It involved a lot of working and cutting out unhealthy foods, such as sugary drinks, fast food and perhaps most challenging of all fried foods.

“When I did eat fast food, it was mostly a salad from Chick-fil-A. I pretty much lived off those for a while. Their grilled salad and then the occasional fried salad,” Salyer said. “It was tough but the hardest thing was the fried food. And when you’re a college student the fast food is hard as well.”

When you’re a college student, cutting burgers, fried chicken and other culinary delights out of your diet seem like a tough challenge. And if Salyer can conquer that, then manning one of the starting spots for Georgia shouldn’t be significantly more difficult. Especially when you factor in Salyer’s talent and drive.

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