football Edit

Smael Mondon opens up about his commitment to Georgia

THE SITUATION

This was a battle. Way back, early — very early — LSU was on top. Clemson, a school that has not been mentioned much lately, was his favorite at one time too. But this one came down to Auburn, Georgia and Tennessee the last few months with Florida and LSU hanging around in his top five.

Dallas (Ga.) Paulding County Rivals100 linebacker Smael Mondon committed to Georgia, but this was not an easy one for Kirby Smart and his staff. Some thought it would be, but along the way, Mondon had strong thoughts about committing to Auburn and Tennessee.

A call was almost made in June, and that would have been to Jeremy Pruitt to commit to the Vols. Mondon held off, took more time, and Smart, Glenn Schumann and Dan Lanning capitalized on that.

A decision was made earlier this month, and on Wednesday morning at an outdoor ceremony at his high school, Mondon made his commitment to the in-state Bulldogs public.

IN HIS OWN WORDS

"Georgia is the right school for me because of trust," said Mondon. "I trust the coaches at Georgia, and I really trust coach Schumann develop me at linebacker and put me in position to pursue a career in the NFL.

"I also love the home-feel at Georgia. They stayed very consistent with me throughout the entire process, they never fell off, they have been true with me all the way through, and that made a difference.

"I had Georgia on top a couple of times throughout the process. I would say very early in 2020, Georgia was on top for me, and maybe again in the middle of the spring. I would say over the last two months, Georgia made the move again, and that is when I really started to think hard about committing to them. I have a couple others, like Auburn and Tennessee up there at different times this year too, but since late August, I had Georgia up there, and they have since solidified that no. 1 position since.

"At first with Coach Schumann, we did not really talk about anything but football. But over time, we talked a lot more, we talked about much more than football, and I really started to get to know him. I learned about his music preference, what he is like with family and things like that. He has a great vision for me and I believe in that.

"Coach Schumann and Coach Smart have talked to me about how I can do multiple things in the Georgia defense. They think I can help outside with pass rush, play inside linebacker in the box, and do a lot of different things in their defense.

"Coach Schumann has shown me a lot with his development of Tae Crowder, what they did with Roquan Smith, and just their development of linebackers. I like his ability to coach, how coach Smart is involved with the defense and what I could do there. They have a very good, consistent defense, and I like what they do.

"I really like where Georgia is as a program. Under Coach Smart, they are expected to be in the playoff discussion every year, so that is a great thing. Coach Smart has Georgia's expectations high right now, and it looks like Georgia is one or two key pieces away from winning it all. I think I could have a chance to win a national championship at Georgia.

"It has been a long journey to get here, so I am relieved to be committed to Georgia. It was fun, and not too stressful for me, but it still feels very good to commit. I have not let recruiting get to me, but it still was a long process.

"Georgia was always in that top group for me, and if they were not No. 1, then they probably were No. 2 at different times, but now they are on top and I am committed to Georgia. I had that feeling late in August or early in September about Georgia, and just looking at their body of work and how I feel the coaches can help me there, it has been the right school for me since then."

RIVALS REACTION

Mondon is a very athletic linebacker, a linebacker that can stay on the field three downs in today's college football game. He is a linebacker that plays fast and can play in space or rush the quarterback. Some of his top plays in high school have been on offensive plays, where he shows the speed and athleticism.

This was a battle, so for Georgia to keep Mondon home, and away from other SEC powers, is a huge win. Mondon had an MCL injury earlier this season, so he will move to Athens and continue to rehab in January. Once healthy, and cleared, he will be an athlete that can compete for playing time on defense or special teams quickly due to his athleticism and versatility.

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