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During Georgia’s practice session in Athens, Ga., on Thursday, March 17, 2022. (Photo by Tony Walsh)
Tony Walsh

Kirby Smart knows something is missing in Georgia football inside linebacker room

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Georgia football inside linebacker position lacks experience

For the record, outgoing Georgia linebacker Channing Tindall thinks the Bulldogs will be just fine at the inside linebacker position. Even with the Bulldogs having to replace himself, Quay Walker and Nakobe Dean, there’s still optimism going forward with regard to Georgia’s inside linebacker position.

“I’m not worried about the inside linebacker room at all, especially being coached by coach (Glenn) Schumann,” Tindall said at Georgia’s pro day. “Just the next group of LBUs about to come out.”

Related: Nakobe Dean, Channing Tindall recount memorable National Championship outburst: ‘He had some words for me’

For all the upside in Georgia’s linebacker room though, Tindall is omitting one key aspect. Sure the room has as high a ceiling as any position group on the 2022 Georgia team. But as it stands now, it’s also the least experienced position for Georgia.

Georgia does not rotate with the same frequency at outside linebacker compared to that of say the defensive line or wide receiver position.

Even though Georgia is also losing is Jordan Davis, Travon Walker and Devonte Wyatt, the Bulldogs bring back four defensive linemen that played at least 150 snaps last season. At inside linebacker, that number is zero.

Dean, Quay Walker and Channing Tindall pushed each other. They made each other better. The hope going forward is that some of the players that were in that room last season can help maintain that same standard.

Even if head coach Kirby Smart is worried about it.

“To get on the field in that room, you had to be on it. It raised the standard, it raised the bar,” Smart said. “That’s kind of what we’re missing now. We don’t have the depth to where we can compete. Some guys have just inherited jobs. In that linebacker room you didn’t inherit anything.”

As for those stepping in at linebacker, the two oldest names are both slowed this spring by injury. Trezmen Marshall and Rian Davis are still recovering from injuries they sustained during the 2021 season. Both are running and doing some things for Georgia this spring, but neither is 100 percent.

Another one of the young options will also be out this spring in Smael Mondon. He had surgery to repair an issue with his labrum, the same surgery Dean had last offseason.

The name at the position that is always brought up first is that of Jamon Dumas-Johnson. Only teammates to this point have called him by his nickname, “pop.”

“Every time he’s out there you actually see a pop,” teammate Nolan Smith said. “He goes in there for two plays, and he gets the ball out. He went in for three plays against UAB and he caught a pick-6 and runs it back. And he gets forced fumbles and sacks within seconds. I love him.”

To Smith’s point, Dumas-Johnson made quite an impact in just 103 plays last season. Mondon was on the field for 104. That’s a far cry from Walker and Dean — who both topped 600 snaps — and Tindall — just under 450 snaps played.

The third 2021 inside linebacker is Xavian Sorey, who should benefit greatly this spring from being healthy enough to get the needed extra reps. As a freshman, Sorey initially battled a foot injury that slowed his development. There were some questions about whether he would play inside linebacker or edge rusher when he got to Georgia, but he’s been able to find a home at inside linebacker.

He’s a bit raw comparatively, but as he showed against Charleston Southern last season he can be a quick learner. Sorey came down with an interception while playing in mop-up duty.

The Bulldogs also have two of their three 2022 inside linebacker signees taking part in spring practice. Jalon Walker was the No. 46 overall prospect in the 2022 recruiting cycle, while CJ Washington came in at No. 135, adding even more talent to the room.

“We got Jalon (Walker), he looks like a monster out there,” Tindall said. “CJ (Washington), I see him over there squatting 500 pounds. I’m not worried about the linebacker room.”

Related: 3 Georgia football takeaways from opening week of 2022 spring drills

If there is one piece of experience in Georgia inside linebacker room it comes in the fact that it’s led by Schumann. He’s the longest-tenured defensive assistant on Georgia’s staff and has developed a pretty stellar pipeline of linebackers. When you consider Dan Lanning and Jahmile Addae were hired away this offseason, Georgia is fortunate to bring back Schumann so that the team is not starting over from a coaching standpoint as well.

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