ATHENS — When you bring up the name Jamon Dumas-Johnson to Georgia players or coaches, it takes a minute for them to realize who you are asking about. Not because the sophomore linebacker is some anonymous player. Quite the opposite.
It’s just that everyone, even Kirby Smart, calls the Baltimore native by his nickname, Pop. It was given to him in part because he always seems to pop up and make plays. There was the leaping interception he had in fall camp last year. The pick-6 against UAB. A sack in the win over Georgia Tech.
Despite being limited to a backup role behind Nakobe Dean, Quay Walker and Channing Tindall, Dumas-Johnson made the most of his playing time last season. And it has him positioned to take on a massive role for the 2022 Georgia football team.
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“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.”
Dumas-Johnson arrived as the least-heralded linebacker signee in Georgia’s 2021 signing class. He didn’t come in with the 5-star pedigree that Smael Mondon and Xavian Sorey had.
Part of the reason for that though is that Dumas-Johnson did not get to have a senior season due to COVID-19. He, Adonai Mitchell and Brock Bowers were the only Georgia signees in the class who did not play football in the fall of 2020.
Dumas-Johnson though did not enroll early, unlike Bowers and Mitchell. That and the fact that he was playing behind three future NFL linebackers limited to just 103 snaps last season. Still, he notched an interception, 2.0 sacks and 21 tackles in mop-up duty.
With those three linebackers off to the NFL, Dumas-Johnson now has an opportunity that was not available to him last season. Add in the spring injuries to Mondon, Trezmen Marshall and Rian Davis and Dumas-Johnson is getting all the first-team reps he could want.
“You could make a case that he is probably where all those guys, Quay, Channing, Nakobe, in their second year,” Smart said. “This is a young man who didn’t play football his senior year due to COVID. He came in a little heavy. He’ll be the first to tell you he was a little heavy when he got here. He had not played a season, so he was rusty and got time on special teams and times in games when we had leads. He’s trying to take on a leadership role.”
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Said leadership role might as important as what he does as a starting linebacker. Dean’s emergence in a leadership role last spring set the tone for what was an incredibly successful season, even as he was limited due to a shoulder injury.
Dumas-Johnson won’t be the next Dean, just as the latter couldn’t be the next Roquan Smith. The sophomore, who is used to playing on loaded teams after playing for St. Frances Academy, is out to carve his own Georgia legacy.
If the early reports from spring practice are any indication of what to expect from Dumas-Johnson this fall, Georgia should be in good hands at inside linebacker. He was working with the first-teamers at linebacker during Georgia’s practice.
And he’s very quickly developed a lot of the traits that Dean, Walker and Tindall all possessed.
“I think Pop is going to be special. I see a lot of resemblance to Quay (Walker) in his game,” running backs Kendall Milton said. “When you got out there and run routes against him, we do the drills where we have to juke him out. He’s just patient. He just lets everything come to him. He’s a super physical player.
“I feel like those are all tools that make a good linebacker in the long run. He’s going to be a guy that steps up on the defense and becomes a leader on the team.”
Dumas-Johnson has quickly ascended in his time at Georgia. He’s going to be a name to know come this fall, even if isn’t immediately Dean or Walker re-incarnated.
Given his ability to make plays and the reputation inside linebackers coach Glenn Schumann has earned for identifying and developing linebackers, Dumas-Johnson seems as prepared as anyone can be to step into a starting spot at inside linebacker for Georgia.
Kendall Milton praises Georgia linebacker Jamon Dumas-Johnson
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