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Jonathan Celestin named Clayton County’s top defensive player

Jonathan Celestin, Mundy’s Mill

Senior linebacker Jonathan Celestin led the Mundy’s Mill defense with a career-high 139 tackles, including 92 solo stops for the Class AAAAA quarterfinalist. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)

Senior linebacker Jonathan Celestin led the Mundy’s Mill defense with a career-high 139 tackles, including 92 solo stops for the Class AAAAA quarterfinalist. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)

On Celestin

Vitals: With graduation having left the Mundy’s Mill defense short at the linebacker spot, the 6-foot-1, 215-pound Celestin was asked to move from his safety spot. Celestin seemed to have made a smooth transition into his new position while helping lead the Tigers to a Region 5-AAAAA, Div. A title. He led the team with 139 tackles, including 92 solo hits. In addition to his tackles, he had six quarterback hurries, two caused fumbles and one fumble recovery. For the last two seasons, Celestin totaled 178 tackles. As a tight end, he had eight receptions for 91 yards.

Why Smith: He was the best tackler on one of the county’s best defenses. The Tigers won a school-record eight straight games with its defense helping lead the charge. Celestin averaged 11.6 tackles per game with a career-high 17 in a key subregion win over Union Grove. He also had six sacks on the season, including a season-best three in the Class AAAAA quarterfinals loss to Gainesville, which featured record-setting quarterback Deshun Watson.

Others considered: Randy Anyanwu of Lovejoy, Isaiah Seise of Jonesboro, Montrell Custis of Lovejoy.

What’s next: Celestin will play in the Georgia-Florida All-Star game in January. He is a member of the school’s basketball team. The senior is being recruited by Jacksonville State, Valdosta State, Stillman and Clark Atlanta.

Coach Greg Manior says: “He is a real tough defensive player, who carried our defense on his shoulders this season. We asked him to change positions, and he did what he thought was best for the team. He exemplified what it means to be a team player. He threw his body around all over the field and made some big plays for us. We had a good defensive this season, and Jonathan was a big part of it.”

Q&A with Celestin

Question: What was the highlight for you this season?

Answer: “Winning eight straight games to get into the playoffs. It took a lot of heart and a big team effort to make it happen. We pulled together as a team and played as one team. On a personal note, I was happy to get over 100 tackles and help lead the defense.”

Q: How did you improve this season?

A: “I was able to increase my speed and strength, which helped me make more tackles on the season. I did a better job of making tackles in open space. It was important that I work on my footwork, and I learned to read the ball carry better.”

Q: What was your biggest challenge?

A: “With so many players graduated from the previous year, we were unsure of how our defense would be this season. We found ourselves and our young defensive line really stepped up. I had to do what I needed to do to help our defense play better. I moved to linebacker because we need some more tacklers in the box.”