Senior Bowl: Former Georgia quarterback Jamie Newman addresses his decision to leave UGA.
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Jamie Newman speaks

MOBILE, Ala. – Georgia fans haven't been the only ones wondering why Jamie Newman decided to opt out. It would have been his lone season at Georgia after coming over from Wake Forest as a graduate transfer.

All 32 teams in the NFL have had the same question.

Although Newman tweeted back on Sept. 2 that the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic played a major factor in his decision, others haven't been convinced.

Thursday at the Senior Bowl, Newman spoke with reporters for the first time since leaving Athens, fielding a wide range of questions—including once again the reason why he didn't play for the Bulldogs this fall.

“I got that from all 32 interviews (with NFL teams),” Newman said. “The biggest factor was my family. It was just a collective thing of Covid. It hit differently for me and my family. I had a family member who was affected by Covid, so that’s what went into my decision."

Some fans haven't been forgiving about the incident, and they haven't been shy about letting Newman know about it on various social media platforms.

While draft pundits questioned how wise it was for Newman not to play, especially considering the fact he harbored dreams of playing in the NFL, there are no regrets.

“I don’t have any regrets about not playing this season. I still love Dawg Nation, regardless of all the stuff I get via Instagram and Twitter,” Newman said. “I still love that family. I’ve still got love for all the fans.”

Newman has had his ups and downs throughout the three days of practice for Saturday’s Senior Bowl (2:30 p.m., NFL Network).

After throwing two interceptions on Wednesday, including one picked off by Bulldog Mark Webb, Newman threw a third on Thursday during 11-on-11 drills.

“Yes, there was definitely some rust,” Newman said. “Just getting acclimated to the speed of the game. Plus, there’s some great players here; some of the great players going into the draft are right here in Mobile.”

Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond is one of three quarterbacks for the American squad. Mond, Newman, and Alabama’s Mac Jones will receive ample opportunities, during Saturday’s game, to show his skill.

“I didn’t know much about him at Wake Forest, but I think he’s shown that he can play with the best people in the country,” Mond said. “I feel like he's been super-efficient, both in the run and the pass game. I think that was something a lot of people were definitely coming out here to see, having spent so much time off. But I think he’s done a really good job.”

Newman said he came to Mobile determined not to place too much pressure on himself to perform.

“It’s a blessing to be back out on the field. I haven’t been on the field in months,” he said. “But I don’t think I had anything really to prove; I just wanted to come out and play ball. To have the opportunity of being invited to the Senior Bowl after not playing—I really thank them for that.”

Newman is also grateful for the support of his former teammates and coaches in Athens.

Fans may not see it the same way. But according to Bulldog tight end Tre’ McKitty, there’s never been anything but love.

During the three days of Senior Bowl practice, Newman could be seen chatting it up with his former teammates, laughing and seemingly having a good time.

“Me and him are close, so we talked about it before he made his decision. At the time, that’s what was best for him and his path,” McKitty said. “Selfishly, I wanted him to stay, but that was best for him and his family.

“I think it helps him a lot. He knows that we were all there for him and still are.”

Newman said he appreciates the support.

“It meant a lot to me. It showed me they cared more about me as a person than as a player. That’s why I respect them. That’s why I still have love for the Georgia family,” he said. “I watched every game this season, as well as watching Wake. That’s why I’m still connected to these guys. You see me out there today—we're always getting each other up, smiling, connecting, just like I did with my Wake guys.”

Jamie Newman spoke to the press for the first time on Thursday.
Jamie Newman spoke to the press for the first time on Thursday. (Senior Bowl)