Standing at 6-foot-3 and weighing in at 225 pounds, Smael Mondon has worked his into becoming a BIG deal on this Georgia defense. He’s a key player and important chess piece in Glenn Schuman’s gameplan having led the team in tackles last year and coming into this season as a starter for the second year in a row. Now, Mondon’s finally gaining wide recognition entering his third and what may be his final year with the Dawgs as he’s proven to be a solid prospect for the 2024 NFL Draft. But before he was on the Butkus Award Watch List and Preseason All-SEC Second Team linebacker, Smael Mondon of Dallas, Georgia was whippin’ up pizzas at Little Caesars and dreaming of playing at a “smaller school” like Florida Atlantic University.
It was that work experience along with the guidance from a special high school coach that really helped mold Mondon into who he is today.
In an interview on Monday, Mondon was asked to speak about his experience working the fast food pizza chain saying:
“It taught me a lot about responsibilities… I got to get up and go to work. Like, I’m working with grown men… They’re out there working hours trying to pay bills and stuff. I’m just trying to get a couple extra dollars.”
Mondon explained that that work experience gave him a different perspective on life and alluded to the fact that it helped him build a foundation for the work ethic that would eventually drive him to the success he’s had at Georgia.
It wasn’t just the pizza that made Mondon into the player he is today. A big part of it has to do with his old high school football coach, Van Spence. He explained that Coach Spence taught him as much on the field as he did off the field like “how to be a better person” and “how to care for other people.”
The junior linebacker also credits Coach Spence for instilling in him the confidence to play at the next level. As a freshman in high school, Mondon was excited to live out his dream playing at what he now considers to be a “smaller school” in Florida Atlantic University. He didn’t mean to disrespect FAU, but rather emphasize how Coach Spence widened his horizons to a “bigger world out there.”
“He kind of instilled a lot of confidence in me, so I love him for that,” Mondon said.
For Smael Mondon, a lot has changed since his high school days. He’s definitely not working at Little Caesars anymore and even Coach Spence has stepped down from his coaching role at Paulding High, but the lessons he’s taught his players still stand. And Smael Mondon is a living breathing example of that.