Question of the Day: Will Jamaree Salyer start right away for Georgia?

Jamaree Salyer-Trey Hill-Georgia-recruiting
Trey Hill (left) and Jamaree Salyer (right) could contend right away for playing time at Georgia.

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Throughout the long recruitment of Jamaree Salyer, I can remember multiple articles asserting the opinion that he would be an immediate starter (whether at center or guard) as a true freshman.  Does this still seem to be likely given the veteran leadership at center and amount of talented linemen who joined the team in 2016/2017 and have experience on their side?  The amount of success his former Pace teammate (Andrew Thomas) had this year has me optimistic that he will arrive on campus ready to go, but I also felt similarly about Isaiah Wilson last year, and we all know how that turned out. Jonathan

This is a good question – not that we would answer a bad one – because it helps us get to an important, overlying point when it comes to hyped recruits:

They can be as good as advertised. And they can not play right away. Both facts can be true.

It’s the circle of life: Players get hyped on signing day. Fans expect them to start right away. Some do, and some don’t, and the ones that don’t elicit concerns over why they aren’t playing, are they a bust, etc. But often what’s missed is that there are only 22 starting spots. Just because someone doesn’t play right away doesn’t mean he won’t eventually, and become very good.

Roquan Smith didn’t start a single game as a freshman. He was good, but he also had two veterans ahead of him.

Ben Cleveland didn’t play as a freshman in 2016, despite the struggles of the line. That didn’t make him a bust. By the end of the 2017 season, he had become the starting right guard as a redshirt freshman, and now he’s got three more years of eligibility ahead of him. The same could happen for Wilson, even if he doesn’t win the right tackle job this season. Wilson needed to adjust to the heat of the deep South. Cleveland needed to adjust to not being massively better than the defensive players he was blocking.

That brings us back to Salyer, who this entire screed might lead some to think I’m saying will not start in 2018. I’m not. In fact, as you point out, he comes from the same school as Andrew Thomas, whose preparation at Pace Academy was cited as a reason for him being ready to play right away. That should give Salyer a big advantage too.

But he’s got to have somewhere to play. It’ll be tough to sit Lamont Gaillard, given his experience at center. Left guard is a possibility, where Kendall Baker will be a fifth-year senior and returning starter. There should be good competition between Salyer and the veterans, as well as all of the highly touted incoming freshmen.

Offensive line coach Sam Pittman said his philosophy is that if it’s a close call between a freshman and a veteran, he’ll usually go with the freshman, because they figure experience eventually will make him better.  That’s one reason to think Salyer has a good chance, and for the four veterans to be on notice.

As a follow-up to the Question of the Day on Wednesday (Flawed reasoning for UGA raising football ticket prices?), we received several questions from readers after the SEC announced that each school’s annual payout would be $40.9 million this year.

Not to belabor your earlier article addressing ticket price increases, but the reasoning given (coaches salaries) did leave me with other questions. How is the money that is received from the SEC Network (just reported at 40.9M) spent?  Also, it seems to be quickly pointed out that we were near the bottom of the SEC in ticket prices. However, at the same time (according to the Hartman brochure I received), we were 4th in the SEC in donations received. How is that money spent?  A little more transparency related to the abundance of funds already received would make it easier to understand how this substantial increase in ticket prices was necessary. – Keith

I read with interest Seth’s article on the UGA football ticket price increase. I didn’t see any mention of the huge check/revenue that the UGAA is receiving each year from the SEC TV Network. What was it last year something like $35 million plus? And what about any other TV revenue from the SEC Championship game and the national championship game? I’ve heard that the department is catching a lot of heat that was “triggered” by the increases. Donors like myself are not happy with our three (3) “cupcake” games in 2018 and negative about the way the postseason game tickets were distributed. – Robert Westmoreland, UGA 1971, season ticket holder since 1974.

A key point: The SEC Network payout was already budgeted in by UGA, and is pretty close to the 2017 payout (an increase of “only” $500,000). So it’s not like UGA raised prices, and then suddenly realized it had another $40 million coming to it. That’s only fair to point out.

It’s also fair to say that the payout shows that while there’s a leveling off with the SEC payout – it exploded after the SEC Network began – that the money likely isn’t going anywhere. I spoke to people last year at SEC meetings, and to a man nobody thinks there’s much reason to worry that cord-cutting will have an effect, saying it’s already built into the conference’s deals with broadcast partners.

The only reason to worry would be if people stopped being interested in SEC football. There haven’t been any signs of that yet.

We don’t yet know what Smart’s new contract will pay him, and how much more the total salaries will be for the coaching staff. Perhaps it will be for around the new money that will come in because of the ticket price increase (about $6.3 million if you just count the 58,000 season tickets.) Still, as pointed out earlier, it’s not that UGA doesn’t have the money anyway. Based on the feedback I’ve received, fans didn’t really buy increased coaching salaries as the reason for the price hike.

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