ATHENS — Even on the other side of the Georgia football practice football fields, Jalon Walker stands out. Frankly, he looks like an NFL player.

That he might be Georgia’s fourth or fifth option at inside linebacker speaks to the level of depth cultivated in Glenn Schumann’s position group for the 2023 season.

“Let him be who we are. Let him keep, you know, being hard on us,” Georgia inside linebacker Jamon Dumas-Johnson said of Schumann. “Let him keep coaching every little thing that he can. Let the linebackers just listen to him ‘cause he’s one of the best in the business.”

Dumas-Johnson won’t say it, but he’s also one of college football’s best linebackers entering the 2023 season. He’s back for his second season as a starter and as a team leader for the Bulldogs.

He’s not the only returning starter for the Bulldogs though, as Smael Mondon also returns. He actually finished with more tackles than Dumas-Johnson in 2022, while playing in two fewer games.

Mondon is not 100 percent at the moment as he is still recovering from a foot injury he suffered at the end of spring practice. It’s still unknown how long Mondon will be out, though Kirby Smart did say the junior linebacker is ahead of the initial timeline.

Without Mondon though, Georgia has plenty of talented options to turn to. Walker, a player who impressed as an edge rusher a season ago and has all the making of being Georgia’s next great linebacker, isn’t the first option at the moment.

That would appear to be Xavian Sorey. He was repping alongside Dumas-Johnson at practice on Thursday as a first-team linebacker. He’s also entering his third season at Georgia. Injuries have slowed his development in comparison to Mondon and Dumas-Johnson.

When Mondon went down with an injury, Sorey stepped up. He led Georgia in tackles during the team’s spring game and has only continued his ascent since then.

“Since Smael’s injury, he has exponentially grown in terms of confidence, ability to execute,” Smart said. of Sorey. “He’s been healthy, No. 1, and he’s had a lot of opportunity of reps of being out there with the 1s. He’s a guy who’s really picked it up in terms of leadership, growth, and he has a lot of athletic ability.”

Sorey was a 5-star prospect in the 2021 signing class, the same one that netted Georgia Dumas-Johnson and Mondon.

While Sorey seems to be ahead of Walker at this point, Smart also made it clear Walker is going to play a role for this Georgia team. He’s too good at rushing the passer to be kept off the field.

Walker still wants to be an inside linebacker too, which is why he spends his time firmly entrenched in the inside linebacker room. He did miss the spring with a shoulder injury but he’s fully ready to go as the Bulldogs ramp up their prep for the 2023 season.

“He’s a person that can play both and a person that we can depend on playing both,” Dumas-Johnson said. “Whether we can adjust at halftime to take him to the outside linebacker room or to take him at halftime and put him back in the inside linebacker room, he’s that type of player and that type of person that we can depend on doing multiple things at once.

“Very flexible player, very trustful player, very hard worker. Just like I said, just a very flexible player and dependable.”

There’s also sophomore EJ Lightsey in the mix as well near the top of the depth chart. For an inside linebacker room that saw an All-SEC player go down with an injury, the Bulldogs are still in excellent shape at the position.

So much so that three top-100 overall prospects in the 2023 recruiting class — Raylen Wilson, CJ Allen and Troy Bowles — aren’t even serious contenders for playing time at this point. Most schools would love to have just one of those three players, much less all of them.

At some point, Mondon will be back on the field for Georgia. When that will be is still unknown at this point. But through the early parts of the 2023 season, it’s clear Georgia feels very, very good about what it has at inside linebacker.

“This is the University of Georgia, so we have talent everywhere,” Dumas-Johnson said. “We’ve got the size, we’ve got the mindset.”

Jamon Dumas-Johnson dishes on Georgia football linebackers