Video/Transcript: Jamaree Salyer and Travon Walker Orange Bowl Interviews – December 29, 2021

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Video/Transcript: Jamaree Salyer and Travon Walker Orange Bowl Interviews – December 29, 2021

Q. Let me be the first one to ask you the Aidan Hutchinson question, and not just him, but Ojabo, too.  You’ve faced some great outside linebackers in the SEC every week. How do these guys compare, and how do you feel about the match-up? Something you’re excited about? 

JAMAREE SALYER: Yes, it’s definitely very exciting, two great, very talented players. They present different match-ups. Each of them are very good at different things, but very talented players, and I’m excited for the match-up.  Obviously heard both their names pretty much more about a month now, so I’m excited to be able to spot the ball and go play. It’s exciting. I’m sure they’re excited to play me as I am to play them. We’ve got great talent, they’ve got great talent, and we’ve both played great talent all year, so best on best, we’re excited for it. 





Q. As to COVID and keeping away from COVID question, I’m curious if you were boosted, and did the team kind of go back to 2020 rules like early December or something a few weeks ago, or what was that like? 

JAMAREE SALYER: I mean, COVID is affecting everything. COVID is affecting everybody, and my heart goes out to all the families affected to it. We’ve got to be safe. We’ve got to be safe, got to make sure you’re taking the necessary precautions to protect yourself, protect your loved ones, and that goes well outside this team into well beyond this country. 

Yeah, it’s really been tough, but we’ve managed it the best we can. Got some of the best athletic trainers in the country, our staff. They do a really great job making sure we’re all safe and healthy. Yeah, it’s been tough, but we’re managing pretty well. 





Q. There’s been a lot of talk about you potentially 

moving to guard, whether that be at the NFL level or even this season, but you’ve maintained that you’re going to play tackle and you’ve played pretty well there. What has allowed you to sort of develop into an all-SEC level offensive tackle? 

JAMAREE SALYER: Just work. Work every day.  Obviously it’s tough with not having the same 6-6 measurables as the next guy. It’s a mindset thing. If you allow that to hold you back, then it will. If you allow that to slow you down, then it will. But if you go out there and you work hard every day and you take the mindset that I can do this and I will do this and nothing’s going to stop me from doing it, it will happen for you, no matter what that is in life.  I just take that approach with playing offensive tackle just like I take that same approach playing guard or center or whatever it is. Everything requires work. Everything requires strain and effort and perfecting your craft. I go every day trying to attack that goal and be the best that I can be. 

Yeah, I think that’s kind of helped me out just to propel me where other people would think I would fall. 

Q. Do you guys talk amongst yourselves when you see UCLA just hours before the game pulling out due to COVID? As we get closer to the game, do you guys say, all right, we’re going to lock in the hotel and limit the contact from the outside world? 

JAMAREE SALYER: Yeah, as far as the UCLA thing, I think it was crazy. It was kind of one of those things that happens that puts everybody on notice, okay, you’ve got to be careful because people are losing the opportunity to play. So definitely being careful. But we trust the plan that Coach Smart has in place, that our training staff has in place. Like I said, they do a great job protecting us. Of course we had that conversation in house just within our players, just telling everybody to be safe, be careful, no matter what you do, where you go, if Coach Smart gives us the freedom to go out and do things, make sure you have your mask on, make sure you are respecting the social distancing, because we don’t need to lose anybody. Like you said, it’s really close to the game, and we’ve got to be careful. Being careful is the most important thing, being 

healthy is the most important thing. We need all hands on deck. Yeah, it’s definitely some conversation about it, but we trust the plan that we have in place. 

Q. This season I know you guys are in the playoff and that’s where you want to be, but kind of reflect back for a second. You guys lost players to injuries. Players and coaches have been gone because of off-field issues. The loss to Alabama. Has there been more leadership committee meetings than usual, and being the team leader as a spokesman which you’ve been throughout your career, what’s been your message to the team as you’re on the brink of wrapping it up with these playoffs? 

JAMAREE SALYER: It’s just honestly with me, I tell the guys, man, just live in the moment. Understand the magnitude of this moment. Understand the magnitude of every day, every rep, every practice rep, everything that you do matters, and don’t ever take it for granted because once you start taking it for granted, that’s when you start losing to your opponent, that’s when you start losing to other teams across the country. I think that’s kind of the message from the leadership group that’s kind of helped us remain one of the top teams in the country is just take everything seriously. Don’t take anything for granted because everything that you do is a step forward. It’s a step forward, it’s a competition, and you can’t see the competitors all the time. That’s one thing about it is you take a rep against Nolan Smith in practice, you can see Nolan. But this whole bowl practice, I haven’t seen Aidan Hutchinson one time, but I have been taking reps against him every single day. So it’s just that competition, competing against people that you can’t see, it’s super important. Having that mindset, it’ll keep us one of the top teams and hopefully finish as one of the top teams at the end, so that’s been my message to the team. 

Q. How do you view going up against Hutchinson and Ojabo, and Kirby said that you guys kind of embrace the challenge. Do you look at it as a way to make a lot more money if you have a really good day given that NFL scouts will be watching these matchups? 

JAMAREE SALYER: Obviously a lot of scouts are going to watch the match-ups. For me I’m a competitor. I like to compete. If they say a guy is the best, I want to play against the best. That’s what you come to college football for. That’s what you play in the SEC for, that’s what you come to George for, you play against the best every single day. At Georgia, you play against the best every single day. Every single Saturday in the SEC and then eventually you get to a point where you get to the end of the year and you play against another team’s best from a different conference, so I’m excited for the competition aspect of it.  

I know that everybody talks about the money and you can make so much money, but I want his best. I know he wants my best. So I’m excited for the match-up because he’s a great player. So is a lot of their defensive players, not just him. 

I think we’re just excited for the match-up because we’ve got a lot of competitors on our team. We’re just competitors. That’s what we are, and that’s what makes us great. 

I am excited for that. 

Q. I’m sure you probably saw the video of Hutchinson pointing at one of the Ohio State offensive linemen and then bull rushing their guy. What did you think of that, 

and if he starts to do that with you guys, how will you react? 

JAMAREE SALYER: I mean, everybody has the way they play the game. I let my play do my talking for me. I’m not much of a talker on the field. I just play. If he wants to do 

that, that’s his prerogative, that’s how he plays, that’s not me. That’s not going to change the way I play. I don’t let my emotions change the way I play. There’s people that rise to occasion and I like to sink into my training, and my 

training is to let my pads do my talking for me. Everybody plays their own way. I don’t knock the way he plays.  Obviously it worked really well for him in that clip, and it was a great clip against a good player, 75 from Ohio State is a good player. That’s his prerogative. I have mine. I am going to play the way that I choose to play and I feel I play the game very well, as well. 

Yeah, that’s his prerogative. 

Q. How do you feel as opposed to the end of the regular season and Alabama? I know you battled that foot injury multiple times. How are you feeling right now? Put a percentage on it if you want. 

JAMAREE SALYER: I feel good. I feel really good actually. Obviously we had a lot of time over the break, just we had about a week off like right after the SEC Championship to wrap up finals and stuff, and during that time we really hit rehab hard outside of studying for finals.  Body feels really good. Practices, Coach Smart has really been managing the practices really well, giving us the chance to recover but also giving us a chance to work really hard, as well. My body feels really good, and I’m really excited for it. I’m excited. It feels nice down here.  The weather is nice. It gives you a chance to loosen up the bones a little bit, loosen up the muscles, so it’ great, get a good sweat in, really not necessarily feeling so stiff going out there every single day in the cool, cold weather.

Q. What makes Jamaree Salyer a good offensive lineman? 

TRAVON WALKER: He’s one of those guys that comes into work every day and he’s going to give it his all. He’s just a natural competitor, and he does everything right off 

the field. Carrying on to the field, he’s just one of those guys that’s going to bring it and give it his all every day. 

Q. We were listening to Michigan earlier this week and their coordinator said this game would be a train wreck, indicating the physicality. What’s been the most physical game — I know they’re all physical, but is there a game that stands out to you that you’ve played where somebody has tried to come downhill at Georgia because typically teams haven’t had much success doing that? 

TRAVON WALKER: For me that I can recap, I’d have to say it would have to be Kentucky. Kentucky tried to get after it early and tried to run the ball with the offensive line and the offensive tackles that they have. I would say that would probably have to be the game that I can recap. 

Q. It seems like in the lead-up to this week we’re hearing a whole lot about Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo but not a whole lot about Travon Walker and Jordan Davis and Nolan Smith and that kind of stuff.  When you get ready for a match-up like this, obviously high level, is that motivation for you guys, just proving that they’re Big Ten, you’re SEC, proving that you’re just as good, better, what have you? 

TRAVON WALKER: It can be motivation, and those are two great players, but just for the guys that you named, me, Jordan Davis and Nolan, we’re just natural competitors, and for the most part, the guys that you named, we’ve all had to go through something in life to 

where we had to do the opposite of what other people said or thought that we could do. So we just have to go out and prove whatever they’re saying wrong and just do our best. 

Q. You guys are coming off a loss, and it’s the only game this year where you had no sacks. Nolan seemed to kind of hammer home that point when we talked to him, kind of took it on him. What steps have you taken to kind of maybe remedy that for you guys to maybe have more of an effective pass rush going forward? 

TRAVON WALKER: Me just coming to practice working on my pass rush and working on different moves every day against some of the best offensive linemen in the country, which is Jamaree and our offensive line. 

It’s just me coming to practice and working on my skill set, things that can make me better as a pass rusher to affect the quarterback. 

Q. I want to ask you about Jalen Carter. He’s one of the guys that we’ve never talked to. And the second question is about players doing interviews now and 

with NIL and social media, do you think that’s something that we’ll see changed in college football, where maybe we’ll get to see more of players and learn their personalities earlier as players brand themselves? And if you could just tell us about Jalen Carter because we’ve never been allowed to talk to him. 

TRAVON WALKER: With the first part of the question, I do think that the NIL deals will help with like getting to know players more, and then also to answer your second question, Jalen Carter, he’s a great player. He’s a physical guy, very strong, fast. He’s not your typical big defensive tackle that can move around like he does. He’s just a great kid. He’s young, and he’s learning the game very fast. 

Within the future, I do think it will help to get to know a lot of the players early on. 

Q. I know you weren’t with the team four years ago when they came into the College Football Playoff, but 

that team was coming off a win. It was kind of new.  There was a lot of excitement. What’s the feeling this time for this team when you’re coming off a loss?  What’s the feeling around the team now? 

TRAVON WALKER: I can’t say it’s just fuel to the fire because no one wants to lose, but also that loss taught us a lot and gave us a lot that we can go to practice and work on. Just building up off of that loss, we just have to go in and correct the mistakes that we made in the past and do better moving forward. 

Q. Michigan has only allowed 10 sacks this season, which is the fewest amongst Power Five schools.  What makes them so good in pass protection? 

TRAVON WALKER: As a whole, they have a good offensive unit, offensive line unit, and just I think those guys are very physical upfront. They try to play — well, they do try physical, and we just have to attack them, do things that they haven’t seen before or just strain more than they strain. 

Q. Can you give us an idea of how many guys are opting out of these optional activities, whether it’s the beach, the dinner cruises, stuff like that, and just staying home, and how much of this COVID craziness is on your mind? 

TRAVON WALKER: So far we haven’t had anybody not go to any team event. The Orange Bowl committee, they have made it safe for us to do all the activities that we have taken place in, and just the COVID aspect it’s affecting everybody in the world, and we’re just being smart with it, wearing our masks, being around the people that we’re always around, and social distancing. 

Q. I wanted to follow up on the opt-out question. I know times and things change, and you’re one of these guys that appears to be on the brink of being a multimillionaire yourself. Is pretty much the protocol that if it’s a playoff game you’re going to play, but now maybe when it’s not a playoff game, like last year I think we saw a couple of Georgia guys that didn’t play, the year before Baker. Is that pretty much the standard now that if you’re going to be a high draft pick that you’re going to see it through if it’s a playoff game? 

TRAVON WALKER: I mean, for me — I can’t answer for everyone else, but for me, I’m one of those guys that I want to go out and compete for whatever game that my team goes out and plays. I can’t answer that question for everyone, but for me, I’m just a natural competitor and want to go out there and play, give it my all. 





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