ATHENS — The Georgia football leadership group has helped steady the Bulldogs throughout the turbulent 2020 offseason, according to offensive lineman Jamaree Salyer.
“How we meet in our leadership group, it gives us a chance to hear different perspectives,” Salyer said in a recent Zoom video interview distributed to UGA donors.
“It gives us a chance to be raw, because everybody has feelings. Everybody has things they want to get off their chest.”
Indeed, it has been a challenging time filled with social concerns emanating from the COVID-19 pandemic and civil unrest.
The UGA players returned to campus and have been going through eight hours of voluntary workouts per week since June 8.
Coach Kirby Smart and his staff won’t be allowed to supervise workouts until July 17. They have been permitted eight hours per week of virtual meetings.
That communication means more than ever.
ESPN analyst and Georgia football legend David Pollack recently noted during an ESPN radio interview that “it’s a different world” for coaches and players.
“The younger generation, they are way more inclined to speak their mind,” Pollack said. “This is a generation that’s media-savvy …. social-media savvy as it gets.”
That could, in turn, lead to grievances being aired if not managed internally.
Pollack points out every program has malcontents, and now there are social media platforms.
“There’s people at every institution, and when I was at the University of Georgia, I can pick our 15 to 20 players who were very unhappy with the situation because they didn’t play as much as they wanted to, they didn’t think they got a fair shot, and they thought they were mistreated, blah-blah-blah,” Pollack said.
“All those kids now, and all those adults now, are going to have an opportunity to speak out and say they were treated unfairly and they didn’t get an opportunity.”
Salyer, a junior who appears to be in line for captaincy, indicated UGA’s leadership group helps mitigate potential team issues.
“I feel getting in those rooms and having a lot of older guys having a chance to talk and get out their feelings (helps), and then Coach Smart being able to listen to us and understand what we’re saying, and sometimes implementing it into his plans that he has for the team,” Salyer said.
“It’s coming together and meeting together and having our ideas aligned, that helps us a lot.”