ESPN makes curious choice for UGA’s ‘most intriguing newcomer’
When Georgia beat out the likes of Auburn, LSU and Tennessee to land 5-star 2021 linebacker Smael Mondon, it was seen as a big win. At 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, Mondon has immense upside and the ability to play at either linebacker spot in the Georgia defense.
Mondon will likely play at the inside linebacker spot for the Bulldogs. It will be worth watching to see how early Mondon can get on the field at Georgia, as the Bulldogs bring back Nakobe Dean, Quay Walker and Channing Tindall at the position. Georgia also signed 4-star linebacker Juman Dumas-Johnson at the position as well.
Still, Mondon’s upside is a big reason why he was one of the most coveted recruits during the 2021 recruiting cycle. And the linebacker from Dallas, Ga., is already generating hype at the college level, as ESPN tabbed Mondon as the Bulldogs’ most intriguing newcomer.
“Linebackers Azeez Ojulari, Monty Rice and Jermaine Johnson are all gone, opening up room for newcomers,” Harry Lyles Jr. wrote. “Well, Georgia added the No. 1-ranked prospect in the state this offseason in ESPN 300 linebacker Smael Mondon. He’s the 11th-ranked player overall in the 2021 class and should have plenty of opportunities to establish himself as Georgia’s next great linebacker.”
Using the 247Sports Composite rankings, Mondon was the No. 34 overall player in the country and the No. 4 overall player in the state of Georgia. The Bulldogs also signed fellow 5-star prospects Brock Vandagriff, Amarius Mims and Xavian Sorey.
Mondon did miss most of his senior year due to a knee injury though he is expected to be ready to go for spring practice. While that might have hindered his development as a football player, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart is happy to have Mondon on campus and already working as a Georgia Bulldog.
“In a lot of ways, it can be a blessing in disguise,” Smart said. “Maybe not for their high school coach, but it can be a blessing in disguise for us because we’re getting kids that maybe aren’t even as developed as they’re going to be when they get here.
“The beauty is both of those guys will be here mid-year, which is a really key element to success in our defense.”
Two other highly-touted Bulldogs who have a chance of making an early impact are tight end Brock Bowers and cornerback Nyland Green. Bowers brings a different skill set to the tight end position, offering more speed to the position to go along with Darnell Washington’s size.
Green has the clearest path to potential playing time, as the Bulldogs’ most glaring hole is at the cornerback position. Like Bowers and Mondon, Green is already on campus and will go through spring practice. The cornerback from Covington, Ga., will compete alongside Kelee Ringo, Jalen Kimber and others to earn a starting spot in Georgia’s 2021 secondary.
Spring practice for Georgia is set to start on March 16 and conclude on April 17 with G-Day.
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