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Smael Mondon caused quite a stir at Inside Linebacker

Georgia inside linebackers Little Mondon missed a golden opportunity to shine this spring as surgery on the labrum delayed his chance for a starting role. Entering fall camp, many eyes are on Mondon, someone who his head coach and teammates believe can make the difference when all is said and done.

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart spoke highly of Mondon on Thursday as the Bulldogs prepared to start fall camp later in the day. Smart praised the former five-star recruit for what he brings to the field, although the sophomore still has room for improvement.

“Excited about the guys we have as inside supporters. I was looking forward to seeing the boys last year. Because of the three guys we had, they didn’t get a chance to shine and show their talent,” Smart said, referring to it Nakobe Dean, Kai Walker and Channing Tindall. “But Smael Mondon is as good an athlete as I have seen. He needs to increase his physicality, his toughness. He missed spring because of shoulder surgery. But he gained a lot of weight.”

Mondon was just a true freshman last season but he flashed in the opportunities he was presented with.

Mondon played as a reserve in all 15 games in 2021 and finished the season with 12 tackles — including a career-best 4 tackles against Charleston Southern — along with 1 sack. Mondon was seen as a prime candidate to move up in the spring to fill one of the roles vacated by the three Georgia centre-backs drafted in April, but surgery left him on the mend.

In Mondon’s absence Jamon Dumas-Johnson turned out to be a legitimate option to start inside. The Bulldogs relied on other options to get through the spring, including Trezman Marshall, Ryan Davis, Xavian Sorey and Jalon Walker.

Although Mondon didn’t get to practice with his teammates in March and April, some of them have seen what he brings to the table.

Security in Georgia Christopher Schmidt characterized Mondon as a prototypical inside linebacker and as an inside linebackers coach Glenn Schumann likes Describing Mondon’s play, the veteran Smith credited him with being a physically gifted player from sideline to sideline who was also smart, strong and able to understand the Bulldogs’ playbook.

While Smith said that no particular game comes to mind when it comes to Mondon, he made it clear that Smart’s claim about Mondon’s athleticism is not unfounded.

“I’ve just seen a lot of times where I’m like running and Smael just flies over my face and does a play,” Smith said. “[They’re] pretty consistent – Channing, Quay, Nakobe, Jamon, all these guys can do these things.

Mondon has shown in the past what kind of linebacker he can be for the Bulldogs, but he still has to prove himself consistently. This sentiment was shared by Defensive Tackle Zion Lodgewho admitted Mondon has no shortage of talent and is someone he would like to see more of.

He hasn’t been very active this spring so I’m really ready to see what he can do this fall [far as] be vocal – being the guy who comes downhill fills in the gaps. He can stop reporting,” Logue said. “I’m ready to see what he can do.”

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