LOS ANGELES – Sam Pittman doesn’t shy away from his connection to the opposition.
Georgia’s offensive line coach and recruiter extraordinaire was born in El Reno, Okla., and attended high school in Grove. With that comes the Oklahoma fandom.
“I was born and raised in Oklahoma,” said Pittman, who was an All-American at Pittsburg State in Kansas. “I was born and raised a Sooner fan and still am. We’ve had some fun with it. It’s been a fun situation.”
When Georgia faced Oklahoma on Monday in the Rose Bowl, Pittman lined up opposite the team he grew up watching. He was keeping the situation light.
“Bottom line is, it is what it is on Monday,” he said.
Pittman has helped put himself in the situation by quickly making a name for himself in Athens, Ga., as an assistant coach and recruiter.
The Bulldogs have recently been the toast of college football’s recruiting trail for their haul of four and five-star signees and commits. Offensive linemen Jamaree Salyer and Cade Mays recently signed and are considered two of the best recruits in the nation at their position, while five-star quarterback Justin Fields decided to stay in-state to give Georgia the top 2018 recruit in the country.
Pittman has helped push Georgia to the top of the recruiting rankings with his ability to relate to the players and build relationships with them, evident by recent social media videos of the coach using pom poms to celebrate signings.
That gives Georgia a bright future while he prepared his offensive line for Monday’s College Football Playoff semifinal game.
“I think we have everybody in the right position this year,” Pittman said. “We have more competition this year. Last year, we just didn’t have that. We have more athletic guys than we’ve had and the competition is pushing each other.”
Pittman offers a newfound sense of consistency at the position after Georgia went through a couple offensive line coaches in recent years. He was hired in December 2015 after serving three years at Arkansas in the same position.
His previous lines spoke for themselves in terms of production. He’s already impacting Georgia in similar ways with a line that’s allowing just over a sack per game.
“Even though three of the five hadn’t played much, our kids had a little bit of that, ‘I don’t want to get embarrassed, I don’t want to get beat,’” he said. “The heart goes a long way playing the offensive line with confidence. You could feel it a little bit in the spring. We got a little confidence in the spring and you could see it coming.”
With Georgia appearring in its first playoff game and boasting the best recruiting class for 2018, the Bulldogs have put themselves in the position for more success. Pittman, with pom poms in hand, is helping make it happen.
“I think every coach wants trust and, to get trust, you have to be honest and know what you’re talking about,” Pittman said. “You have to communicate and talk to them. I think we’re headed in the right direction.