ATHENS — Glenn Schumann has a lot on his plate this season. He’ll be taking on a bigger role as the co-defensive coordinator this season, partnering with Will Muschamp in those duties.
He also has to replace most of his best players from the inside linebacker room. Nakobe Dean, Quay Walker and Channing Tindall were the three most productive players in the group last season and are all now off to the NFL.
The Bulldogs have plenty of options and promise at the position, thanks to Schumann’s dogged recruiting efforts. Based on spring practice, sophomore Jamon Dumas-Johnson has a leg up on the competition at the moment as he’s poised to fill the shoes of the many great Georgia linebackers before him.
“I think he’s challenged himself,” Schumann said of Dumas-Johnson. “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.”
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Who starts besides Dumas-Johnson is less clear. The veterans in the room are Trezmen Marshall and Rian Davis. Both are in their fourth season at Georgia. The problem is that neither has been able to stay consistently healthy. Marshall already seems to be dinged up during fall camp, as he was off working with a support staffer during Tuesday’s practice.
Still, this is their best chance to earn playing time. Schumann knows the work the two have put in to stay ready for this moment.
“I am really excited for those guys,” Schumann said. “They are guys that have battled it out throughout their careers. They’ve had some hardships and they have remained positive, they have remained focused and determined. To see them out there competing is awesome for me as a coach because you respect what they have done. If they continue to do that, I am hopeful for them.”
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If there’s a standout among the young options, so far it is Smael Mondon. Kirby Smart began fall camp praising his athleticism, though the Georgia coach stressed the importance of Mondon gaining football experience. He was largely a special teams player last season and missed spring practice due to a labrum injury.
Mondon was working as the first-team dime linebacker during a drill on Tuesday’s practice, a set-up that would fit his unique blend of athletism. The scrimmages Georgia holds this month will also help prep Mondon for the rigors that come with an expanded role on defense.
“Everybody needs to grow,” Schumann said. “The whole room understands what’s expected in terms of running the defense. There’s a level of pressure that applies to you and they are all trying to answer it.”
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There is also Xavian Sorey, Jalon Walker and EJ Lightsey available. Walker and Lightsey are both freshmen, while Sorey is a redshirt freshman after playing in just two games last season.
Talent isn’t so much the issue at the inside linebacker room. It’s the lack of experience that Georgia has to replace. Schumann knows this, given he recruited all these players to replace the likes of Dean, Walker and Tindall.
Schumann though isn’t asking any of his current crop to be those players. Just like he didn’t expect Dean to become the next Roquan Smith.
“You never ask somebody to replace somebody else. You ask them to be the best version of themselves,” Schumann said. “That’s what counts now is going out there every day seeking excellence and challenging yourself to be the best version of yourself. The people in that room are doing that every day. I am thankful that we are healthy and guys are pushing each other. The one thing in the standard that we set in those guys and the guys before them is that everybody is competing together. I am excited to see where we go.”
Glenn Schumann discusses Georgia football inside linebacker room
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