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Former Bulldogs reveal which teammates they'll be watching next year

Outgoing cornerback Derion Kendrick has no doubt Georgia’s secondary will be in good hands when the Bulldogs kick off next season in Mercedes-Benz Stadium against Oregon.

However, there’s another young player at middle linebacker he mentioned that he believes will also make a big impact this fall.

His name may or may not surprise you: Smael Mondon.

The sophomore from Dallas, Georgia, was moved to inside linebacker early in the year and flashed to the tune of 12 tackles, including a sack for a 12-yard loss against Charleston Southern.

However, it’s what Kendrick saw of Mondon in practice that has him believing Mondon could become a star.

“With a lot of these younger guys, they’ve got it in them,” Kendrick said. “It’s just a matter of getting into the playbook, things like that.”

Kendrick believes Mondon will do just that.

There’s certainly going to be ample opportunity for his former teammates to earn significant playing time. With Nakobe Dean, Quay Walker, and Channing Tindall moving on to the NFL, Mondon, along with fellow inside linebackers Juman Dumas-Johnson, Rian Davis and Trezman Marshall figure to be the main ones getting a close look this spring.

Kendrick said the cornerback position will also be in capable hands.

The South Carolina native laughed that fans already know how good Kelee Ringo can be, and as far who might replace Kendrick in the starting lineup, two names top his list.

Although true freshman Julian Humphrey and Jaheim Singletary will no doubt get looks, two familiar names jump to mind.

“I like Kamari Lassiter. He’s a great player, physical,” Kendrick said. “Even though he’s a little undersized right now as far as weight, he’s a great player. He can play man, he can play zone; he can tackle.”

Kendrick also offered likes redshirt freshman Nyland Green.

“Both these guys know what to do,” said Kendrick.

Green, who played in only three games for the Bulldogs last fall, was arrested in November, but he remains with the team. His punishment is expected to be handled internally.

Lassiter played in all 15 games as a reserve defensive back and on special teams, finishing with 11 tackles and an interception against Vanderbilt.

Kendrick was one of several former Bulldogs asked last week during an interview session at the Senior Bowl about which of their former teammates they expected to show out this fall.

Devonte Wyatt’s choice was easy.

The way Wyatt put it, rising junior Jalen Carter may have been Georgia’s best defensive lineman last year. Wyatt called Carter “a monster,” noting the Florida native can be as good as he wants to be.

Wyatt also cited the rising junior trio of Warren Brinson, Nazir Stackhouse and Zion Logue as defensive tackles he believes are ready to play integral roles come fall.

Logue played in all 15 games for Georgia, with Brinson (12 games) and Stackhouse (10 games) seeing extensive time in backup roles.

The offensive line is also a position where there will be ample opportunity for some newcomers to make an impact.

Guard Justin Shaffer said finding capable replacements on the offensive line will not be a problem.

“There’s a lot of them,” Shaffer said. “Broderick Jones, Sedrick Van Pran, Warren McClendon, Warren Ericson, Xavier Truss, Amarius Mims …”

Shaffer also mentioned Tate Ratledge, recovering from his Lisfranc injury, Devin Willock, along with Austin Blaske.

“We’re deep,” Shaffer said. “Guys just have to show out.”

Jones figures to get the bulk of the work in an attempt to replace Jamaree Salyer at left tackle, with McClendon back at right tackle and Van Pran at center.

That leaves the two guard spots as the main positions up for grabs, with position coach Matt Luke no doubt working out various combinations through the spring to see which combination works the best.

Derion Kendrick says to keep an eye on Smael Mondon.
Derion Kendrick says to keep an eye on Smael Mondon. (Tony Walsh)