“Since the schools offered me, they have been talking to me a lot," said Mondon. "I have interest in them all, and I have interest in taking visits to Notre Dame and Texas. I have thought about Oregon too, but that is so far away, so if I do decide to visit there, it will have to be for an official visit. I am still keeping my options open, so I am looking at each offer."
GEORGIA: "I have been there three or four times now and it is a good vibe. I like all the coaches and I have gotten really close with coach Schumann. We talk every couple of days and we talk about life, we are getting to know each other and there is a little recruiting mixed in there too. One thing I have always liked about Georgia is they have a defensive-minded head coach (Kirby Smart), so the defense is a priority. I have always liked them, so it is up there."
TENNESSEE: "I have visited Tennessee three times and I like the atmosphere there. It is fun there. I was there for their summer party last year, I was there for a game and it is always fun there. I have good relationships with a couple coaches at Tennessee and it is just a cool place there. I always have a good time there and that's what it is for me with Tennessee."
IRON BOWL PARTIES INVOLVED: "I have been over to Alabama and Auburn a couple of times. I like both schools and they are schools I want to get back to. Both schools have coaches that are reaching out to me a couple of times a week too. Alabama's name just stands out, so it is hard not to look at them. Even someone that doesn't know about football knows about Alabama. With Auburn, I just visited them recently and it is about my relationship with T-Will (Travis Williams). It is not really a football relationship with him. We can talk about anything. I have a good time there too, but the best thing about Auburn is T-Will. He is just different."
THE BALANCING ACT: "It does get stressful at times. Trying to handle recruiting with school, but I try not to let it bother me. I don't want to ignore any coach, but it is hard to reply to each message I get sometimes. I am laid back, so I try not to get too stressed about it all. I think I am handling it pretty well, and trying to take care of everything the right way, so I would say I am juggling everything pretty good right now."
NOT READY YET: "I was initially thinking I would cut my list down to 10 schools in February, but with so many different schools texting me and stuff, I do not think I will be ready for that. I am just going to keep the list broad for now, then when I feel more ready, I will probably cut it down to a lower number. There is no sense in cutting it to 20 or some number like that, so I will just wait."
TAKING IT SLOW: "I do not plan to make my decision until my senior year. I am going to take my official visits during my senior season or after it. Each visit is important to me, but the official visits will mean more to me. I have not decided on any of those yet, so I think once I set those, those five schools will be a priority for me. I am probably not going to decide until December, so I am just taking my time."
There is still a long way to go in this race, but a handful of SEC schools have cemented themselves in this race for sure. Mondon is not locked in on staying close to home though. He said he would like to get out this spring and summer to visit schools like Florida, Florida State, LSU, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Texas A&M to go along with Notre Dame and Texas. He still he has a long list of schools he is looking at, so this could still go a number of different ways. It will likely come down to those five official visits, and it looks to be at least seven or eight months before those get started.
Mondon, a junior at Paulding County High School in Dallas, Ga., who's a five-star prospect in the 247Sports Composite, received an offer from Tennessee more than a year ago and has visited the Vols three times since late July, when he attended their pool party, Tennessee’s final recruiting event of the summer. He returned to Knoxville on Nov. 30 to attend the Vols' regular-season finale against Vanderbilt and most recently traveled there on Jan. 26. All three predictions on the 247Sports Crystal Ball point to Georgia as the favorite to land the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Small, who's ranked the No. 23 overall prospect and No. 2 outside linebacker in the 2021 class, according to the 247Sports Composite. Auburn, Tennessee, Florida and Alabama are believed to be the other main contenders for him.
Mondon made an official visit to Tennessee in January, his third visit since July 2019. He’s an outside linebacker but capable of playing inside, and he fits the mold of the versatile four-for-four linebackers Jeremy Pruitt likes to recruit.
Niedermeyer is his lead recruiter, with defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley also involved. Pulling him away from in-state favorite Georgia will be difficult, but it’s still early. The five-star, top-25 national recruit is also a high school track star at 6-foot-2, 220 pounds.
“Tennessee for me it would be like something to start new or be a different page, that would be the reason if I did go there. Alabama, Clemson, all those schools are on top. If I were to go to Tennessee and start a new thing there, it’d be like my own legacy there or bringing something back. Tennessee was up once and it’s kind of how the wheel turns, and if I were to go there and help them win I’d have a really long legacy there.”