Georgia Spring Look Back: Inside Linebacker
UGASports is continuing its series taking a post-spring look at each position.
We began with the defense Monday, and today we slide over to the inside linebackers where there are certainly some holes to fill.
WHAT WE LEARNED: Sophomore Jamon Dumas-Johnson appears to be the next man up
Nicknamed “Pops,” sophomore Dumas-Johnson obviously isn’t that old, but in terms of experience, he’s taken more reps than any other of Georgia’s returning middle linebackers.
At 6-foot-1 and 235 pounds, Dumas-Johnson played in 14 of Georgia’s 15 games during the Bulldogs’ national championship run, repping both at inside linebacker and on special teams.
That native of Hyattsville, Maryland, finished with 22 total stops on the season, along with 2.0 QB sacks, 2.5 tackles for loss, one interception and two QB pressures. He tied for team honors with six tackles in the win over Charleston Southern.
One of his two sacks came in Georgia’s win against Missouri. Earlier in the season, he returned a fourth-quarter interception 20 yards for a touchdown against UAB.
Look for Dumas-Johnson to be a Week 1 starter, and ultimately finish as one of the Bulldogs’ leading tacklers.
LOOKING AHEAD: Which players will see increased roles?
A better question might be, who won’t?
With Nakobe Dean, Quay Walker, and Channing Tindall off playing in the NFL, inside linebacker is probably the most wide-open position on the entire football team as far as the pecking order for playing time goes.
Dumas-Johnson will be the main man at the Money position, and likely will not take too many breaks.
At Mac, junior Trezman Marshall appears to be a top choice. Injuries have slowed the former four-star since his arrival, but if he can stay healthy, he's expected to play a significant role.
Sophomore Smael Mondon will see a big uptick in playing time, most likely at Mac, with Xavian Sorey and freshman Jalon Walker also figuring into the mix.
Like Marshall, junior Rian Davis has also battled injuries since coming to Georgia, but will occasionally spell Dumas-Johnson at Mike throughout the year.
The Bulldogs will also welcome incoming freshman EJ Lightsey, who was a bystander when he was hit by stray bullets during a shooting last February in his hometown of Fitzgerald.
Fortunately, Smart said during the spring that Lightsey is expected to make a full recovery and will join the team in June.
Early enrollee CJ Washington was enjoying a good spring before a neck injury. Smart has not updated his status.
BIGGEST SPRING CONCERN: Can this group stay healthy?
Injuries are always going to be a concern at any position. That’s certainly the case at inside linebacker, where unfortunately there’s been a precedent.
We just finished talking about Marshall and Davis. Both are very good football players, but unfortunately, neither has been able to prove they can stay healthy for the entire year.
During a spring interview, Marshall commented that he’s battled various injuries since arriving in Athens, most notably a knee injury that he originally suffered in high school.
Although you’re talking about a lot of inexperience when it comes to inside linebacker, talent should not be a concern.
Keeping them healthy will be the key. As long as they stay out of the training room, it’s going to be fun to see some of these young players emerge.
BIGGEST SURPRISE: "Smael" when you say that
Before we go any further, let’s get the pronunciation of Smael Mondon's first name correct—it’s “smile.”
It’s not “smaeling” (sic) a flower. For you older folks like myself, don’t be like Sargent Schultz on Hogan’s Heroes, “Smael! Smael! Achtung!” It’s smile.
Ok, enough silliness.
Seriously, if you want to pick one of Georgia’s inside linebackers most likely to make a big jump, Mr. Mondon would be the man.
Mondon might not be quite as fast as Channing Tindall, but he’s definitely got the wheels for the job.
His pursuit and ability to run down backs are as good if not better than anyone at the position, and he’s athletic enough to drop in coverage if need be.
Listed at 6-3 and 220 pounds, “rangy” is a good way to describe the former Paulding County standout who made 12 tackles playing in all 15 games last season.
THE UGASPORTS STORE IS OPEN
Get your tailgating supplies at the new UGASports Store. Be sure to order by May 22nd!
Here's the LINK.