ATHENS — Smael Mondon recognizes that new Georgia linebackers CJ Allen and Raylen Wilson are a different breed.

Allen and Wilson have already made impressions on teammates and coaches, despite only just arriving on campus. The two signed as members of the 2023 recruiting class and both were able to participate in bowl practices prior to Georgia’s National Championship win over TCU. Allen in particular earned praise from Kirby Smart for how he played on Georgia’s scout team.

Mondon — Georgia’s leading tackler in 2022 despite missing two games with an ankle injury— was admittedly nervous going through his first spring practice.

“Raylen and CJ, really all the freshmen, they’re all just like a really athletic group,” Mondon said. “So they’re hard workers, strong, fast — really everything you want in a linebacker.”

Related: Raylen Wilson: The freshman LB with unreal GPS numbers and a home-cooked recipe for greatness

Wilson, a 5-star prospect, and Allen, a 4-star prospect, were both top-100 overall recruits in the 2023 recruiting class. They’ll be joined later this summer by Troy Bowles, a third top-100 overall prospect in the 2023 signing class.

None of the freshmen are expected to contribute right away, due to Mondon and Jamon Dumas-Johnson both returning as starters. The juniors ranked first and second in tackles last season for the Bulldogs.

Similarly, Dumas-Johnson and Mondon were not seen as players who would make immediate impacts at Georgia. When Mondon was a freshman during the 2021 season, Georgia had Nakobe Dean, Quay Walker and Channing Tindall in Glenn Schumann’s inside linebacker room. Every member of that trio is now in the NFL.

Mondon spent much of his freshman season learning the playbook and making an impact on special teams. As a veteran of Georgia’s linebacker room, he now recognizes the value of that first season.

“I felt like you kind of get a head start with the playbook going into summer and going into fall camp so you’re not really going to be as confused really,” Mondon said. “It’s kind of like a practice fall camp really for a lot of the freshmen, so like whenever they get there and things really get rolling again, they’re going to kind of really know what’s going on and they’re not going to be as lost.”

Related: 2023 Georgia football signees that will have an early impact as freshmen

Eventually, Wilson, Allen and Bowles will be tasked with replacing Mondon. The talented linebacker will no doubt be following Dean, Tindall and Walker into the NFL.

For now, the young linebackers are taking advantage of the extra practice time this spring in order to better position themselves for the future.

“Yeah, for sure. Not necessarily with just CJ and Raylen, but I feel like they’re all out there making plays,” Mondon said. “I feel like that’s what spring’s for. You’re going to mess up, but really just go out there and just play loose — just make plays and do what you can.”

Smael Mondon gives advice to promising freshman linebackers

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