Overshadowed by the hype that gets directed towards his teammate Jamon Dumas-Johnson, sophomore linebacker Smael Mondon shows reporters that he’s just as worthy of the hype in an interview on Thursday. Hailing from Dallas, Georgia, this defender was recently praised by head coach Kirby Smart for being one of the most physically gifted players Smart has seen play the position (inside linebacker). And in just few a days, he’ll get his shot to shine in the season opener against former coach, Dan Lanning and the Oregon Ducks. But even with a wild matchup just around the corner, Smael has shown that he can be just as calm as he is athletic.
Smael was asked about how he and the team felt with the game drawing near and said, “Of course we’re really excited. You know, we all play for Saturday nights, but I feel like right now we’re more so focused on practice…”
The answer, while similar to others we’ve heard from Smael’s teammates, sounds genuine. This team keys in on practice and truly believes that’s where a player gets better. Smael knows that and likes it because he said he’s not even where he wants to be, “I just want to keep getting better. I’m not really satisfied where I’m at right now.”
On getting better and learning from the linebackers that came before him Smael said, “They just showed us what it takes, you know. The hard work you got to put in everyday… The toughness, composure, resiliency, connection.”
And it appears to be paying off. Smael told reporters that, “We had a really good fall camp,” and said, “I feel like I have a better understanding of the defense now.” Having been in the system for over a year now, Smael is definitely getting a hang of things and expects to contribute in big ways this season.
Last year Georgia’s defensive success almost directly correlated with the linebackers’ success. Having multiple guys ready to go- Pop, Trezmen Marshall, Rian Davis, and now Smael Mondon- gives the coaching staff more options and more ways to win. Smael’s talents will put him on the field soon, and only then will we be able to see that athleticism that Coach Smart was raving about.