We finally learned the origin of Jamon Dumas-Johnson’s nickname. The team calls him Pop, not because he’s a ferocious hitter but rather because of his physical appearance.

“He looks like an old man, so we call him Pop,” running backs coach Dell McGee said. “I think he’s done a great job.”

McGee is far from the only coach to praise Dumas-Johnson this fall. The sophomore linebacker continues to establish himself as the leader in Georgia’s inside linebacker room. In a group with multiple veterans and former 5-star prospects, it’s Dumas-Johnson who has become the unquestioned leader in the group.

“Pops (Jamon Dumas-Johnson) has probably been the most consistent guy in that group,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “We’re looking for some mental and physical toughness out of that group. There’s some talented young players.”

Related: Kirby Smart praises Georgia football linebacker Smael Mondon: ‘As good an athlete as I’ve seen’

The work Dumas-Johnson has put in so far in fall camp backs up what he did in the spring and in a backup role last fall. Ever since arriving at Georgia last summer, all the Baltimore native has done is make play after play for the Bulldogs in practice.

He was also a fixture on Georgia’s special teams units last season, often a harbinger for future playing time.

With the Bulldogs sending three linebackers off to the NFL, Dumas-Johnson knew he was going to have an opportunity to make an impact for the 2022 team. What has further impressed coaches this offseason is how Dumas-Johnson has gone about making the most of said opportunity.

“I think he’s challenged himself,” inside linebackers coach and co-defensive coordinator Glenn Schumann said. “He knows in the summer you attack strength and conditioning to be able to say, hey I might have an increased role this year. What do I have to do in terms of my strength and conditioning to do whatever role is asked of me? He loves football. He practices really hard. He’s an instinctive, physical player, but (we) need to continue to see him grow.”

Georgia is going to rotate at inside linebacker this season, as it has often done in the past. That means the Bulldogs will need more than just Dumas-Johnson if the defensive unit is going to uphold the Georgia standard.

Most likely to start next to Dumas-Johnson at this point is junior Trezmen Marshall. He’s been battling through a calf injury this fall after missing most of the previous two seasons with various injuries.

But when he’s been on the field, Marshall has made a number of impressive plays for the Bulldogs. Smael Mondon and Xavian Sorey have done so as well, just not as frequently as Smart would like.

“Sorey flashes, but he’s got to do it more consistently,” Smart said. “He knows that, he has some ability to make some really big flash plays, but he’s got to do it more consistently within the defense. Smael (Mondon) has got to play better, too. That’s a group, that group has got to step up and play better.”

Often under Smart, the inside linebackers have been the best playmakers. It helps when you have two recent Butkus Award winners in Roquan Smith and Nakobe Dean. Expecting Dumas-Johnson to be that this season might be asking a bit much from the sophomore.

The next start he makes will be his first. And while he’s come a long way, Schumann knows his best football is still ahead of him.

“The whole room understands what’s expected in terms of running the defense,” Schumann said. “There’s a level of pressure that applies to you and they are all trying to answer it. But, he’s done a great job so far and just needs to continue to grow.”

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