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Georgia LB Smael Mondon Jr. (Jeff Sentell/ DawgNation)

Georgia linebacker Smael Mondon showing the importance of confidence, press conference slip-ups aside

Smael Mondon made a mistake and he knew it. He was discussing the importance of receiving treatment and he accidentally let out a curse word he wasn’t supposed to.

Mondon knew and profusely apologized.

“My bad,” Mondon said while covering his hand with his mouth. “I’m sorry. Just forget I said that”

Much like his play on the field, Mondon won’t make the same mistake twice. And it’s worth remembering the young linebacker is still learning and more importantly, getting better.

“Probably maturity, being able to handle failure, mistakes,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said of the improvements made by Mondon. “He struggled a little bit in the Missouri game when he had the injury, he made a couple mental errors, and then he bounced back after the injury, and he’s played with a lot more confidence since then.”

Mondon agrees that the biggest strides he’s been able to make this year have come because of his confidence. After being largely related to special teams duties last season, he’s gone on to start eight games for Georgia this season.

The Georgia linebacker has bounced back after missing two games with an ankle injury. Despite sitting out the games against Auburn and Vanderbilt, Mondon is third on the team in tackles with 41. He’s also third on the team in tackles for loss with five, just behind fellow inside linebacker Jamon Dumas-Johnson.

“I would say my confidence level has grown the most this season,” Mondon said. “Going into this season, I had never started before, so now that I’ve seen what I can do, it’s given me confidence that I can build off.”

Mondon and Dumas-Johnson had big shoes to fill this season, with Nakobe Dean, Quay Walker and Channing Tindall all leaving for the NFL. Those linebackers played at an incredibly high level, setting the bar high for two linebackers who had never started for Georgia before.

Those two haven’t done it alone though. The play of Rian Davis and Trezmen Marshall has also been key for the inside linebacker room this season, giving Georgia plenty of options at the inside linebacker room.

Especially when Mondon missed games against Auburn and Vanderbilt with an ankle injury.

“Trezmen [Marshall] and Rian [Davis] being back has really been a huge help to Jamon Dumas-Johnson [Pop] and Smael [Mondon] because you can’t really play two inside linebackers and get through a game, you got to have three or four to rotate,” Smart said. “They got to have some rest and some recovery, and those guys have stepped up and helped them a lot.

“Coach Glenn Schumann does a great job with that room, he prepares them from day one. They’ve done really well considering who they had to replace.”

Mondon and the Georgia defense are looking forward to getting back out onto the field. Given how the unit has played in recent games, it’s understandable. Even with cold weather looming, the group is excited to face off against Will Levis, Chris Rodriguez and a physical Kentucky offense.

For the sophomore linebacker, it’ll be another chance to get better and show that he is more than capable of upholding the Georgia linebacker standard.

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