UGASports - Making the Case: Rivals100 LB Smael Mondon
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Making the Case: Rivals100 LB Smael Mondon

Many of the top 2021 prospects have been committed for some time, but there are some high-profile prospects still out there that have decisions to make. Dallas (Ga.) Paulding County four-star linebacker Smael Mondon is one of those standouts.

Today, experts from the Rivals.com network examine where Mondon might end up playing his college football. The candidates are Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU and Tennessee.

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CLASS OF 2021 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

CLASS OF 2022 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

COVERAGE: Rivals Transfer Tracker | Rivals Camp Series

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THE SITUATION

Mondon is the No. 7 prospect in Georgia and the No. 89 prospect in the country. He has well over two dozen offers, and programs have been jockeying to land his commitment for the last two years. The in-state program, Georgia, was considered the favorite very early, but things shifted to wear the schools outside his home state had the most buzz. He has had a consistent top five over the last 9-10 months, but there has been a lot of movement among that group of finalists. Tennessee had him on campus this weekend and he has strong connections with coaches from each of the programs on his list, especially Travis Williams of Auburn and Christian Robinson of Florida. With a commitment date of Nov. 18 approaching fast, Mondon is focused on SEC powers. With a decision coming into focus we asked our team experts to state the case for their respective programs and let National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell issue a verdict.

AUBURN

“Auburn has several things working for it in its pursuit of Mondon, but none more important than Travis Williams. Auburn’s linebackers coach has developed a very strong bond with Mondon and they communicate regularly. They relate on a personal level. It’s a relationship that has the Tigers in serious contention. Mondon also has good relationships with Gus Malzahn and defensive coordinator Kevin Steele. He’s visited Auburn at least twice and feels comfortable on campus. Yes, Georgia will be tough to beat. No doubt about that. But Mondon’s relationship with Williams gives Auburn a legit shot at the upset.” — Jeffrey Lee, AuburnSports.com

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FLORIDA

“Although relocating to Gainesville is considered a long shot, the Gators have a few things going for them with Mondon, including the defender’s strong relationship with linebackers coach Christian Robinson. Like Mondon, Robinson is a Georgia native who played linebacker at a high level, so their similarities, both on and off the field, have led to the two developing a strong bond on the recruiting trail. He's also intrigued by the way Todd Grantham utilizes his linebackers and envisions himself reaching new heights in UF’s scheme. The Rivals100 prospect was inside the Swamp for last year's homecoming victory against Auburn and had planned to attend the Gators' junior day on March 7 before track forced him to reshuffle his plans. With that being said, it’s difficult envisioning Mondon in a Gators uniform after not stepping foot in the Swamp for over a year.” — Corey Bender, GatorsTerritory.com

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GEORGIA

“Tennessee and Auburn have been major threats to Georgia throughout the recruitment of Mondon, but with his commitment fast approaching, the smoke around the Bulldogs seems to be increasing. That’s certainly welcomed news in Athens, as Georgia went light at the linebacker position in the previous recruiting cycle. Mondon has been a coveted target for Georgia for some two years now, and keeping in-state talent home has been a major focus of the Kirby Smart regime with some mixed success. After missing on Barrett Carter, that became even more pronounced in 2021. This would be a great pull for the Bulldogs and, as of today, we like their chances.” — Jake Reuse, UGASports.com

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LSU

LSU has a lot of holes to fill in the 2021 recruiting class and linebacker is near the top with offensive linemen and safeties. The Tigers currently have linebackers Raesjon Davis, Greg Penn and Zavier Carter pledged to the 2021 class, and Naquan Brown, who could play LB or off the edge, however, LSU could be looking for more if the numbers work out. LSU has stayed in consistent contact with four-star Smael Mondon along with a few others, but this one has always had the feel of Georgia winning out in the end.” — Julie Boudwin, TigerDetails.com

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TENNESSEE

“While Smael has told some that he may visit Knoxville before he commits, it’s hard to see him ending up on Rocky Top. Tennessee did a nice job of recruiting him all spring and summer but seemed to lose momentum late in the summer months. He really has developed a nice relationship with Brian Niedermeyer but at this point it doesn’t feel like the Vols will land the Paulding County product.” — Austin Price, VolQuest.com

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THE VERDICT

“I have UGA for Mondon in what was a close battle with Auburn and a late push from Tennessee. It was always going to be hard to pull him away and the comfort level with Kirby and company has been great.” — National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell