Posted: 6:56 pm Monday, July 28th, 2014

UGA makes late addition to 2014 class, older brother of top Alabama recruit (UPDATED) 

By Michael Carvell

 

Basketball-turned-football player Joe Ledbetter (center) at Dawg Night with 5-star QB commit Jacob Eason (AJC/Michael Carvell)

Basketball-turned-football player Joe Ledbetter (center) in his TE stance at Dawg Night with 5-star QB commit Jacob Eason (AJC/Michael Carvell)

UGA has gotten a commitment from the older brother of one of Alabama’s top football recruits.

Joseph Ledbetter, who has played NCAA Div. II college basketball the last two years, was both offered a football scholarship by UGA and accepted it after trying out for the Bulldogs at Dawg Night prospect camp last week.

Ledbetter, who measured at 6-foot-3 and 239 pounds at camp, will take an official visit to UGA on Tuesday and then start practices with the Bulldogs on Friday. He will have three seasons to play two, but it hasn’t yet been determined yet if he’s eligible to play this fall.

His younger brother is Jonathan Ledbetter, the 4-star defensive lineman from Tucker High School who is committed to Alabama. Jonathan, who went to Dawg Night with his brother and will join him on Tuesday’s visit, is one of UGA’s top recruiting targets for 2015.

UGA is trying to flip Jonathan from Alabama, where he committed last January.

How will Joseph’s commitment to UGA affect Jonathan’s college plans?

“I would love to have two Georgia Bulldogs as sons,”their mother, Teresa Belcher, told the AJC.

“Or three – because I have a third son as well. But I try to stay out of it. I try to let them decide what is best for them. Of course, I give my opinion. But Jonathan will make his decision on what is best for him, as far as the type of team that fits his personality. I try not to overwhelm him with questions about that.

“Jonathan is very happy for Joseph. He is very excited for his brother. But I really don’t think it’s going to influence his college decision on way or the other.”

More on Joseph Ledbetter: He played football and basketball during his childhood but decided to focus on basketball only during his final two years of high school. He played at Virginia’s Oak Hill military prep as a junior, then returned to Tucker as a senior.

The elder Ledbetter signed a basketball scholarship out of Tucker with Pfeiffer College, a Div. II school in North Carolina. He played two seasons there, averaging 3.1 points and 5.1 rebounds last year.

After seeing Jonathan’s rise to stardom in football, Joseph came up with idea to return to football.

2015 Alabama DL commit Jonathan Ledbetter (AJC/Michael Carvell)

2015 Alabama DL commit Jonathan Ledbetter (AJC/Michael Carvell)

“He is a very physical basketball player, and he’s a very aggressive rebounder — people always told him that he should play football,” his mother said. “He used to think it was a joke. But with his feet and agility, it really lends itself to football. I’ve always told him that. I’ve always wanted him to play football.

“I never push my kids to do something that they don’t want to do. He kind of knew he always should be playing football.”

Once Joseph Ledbetter decided that he was switching from basketball to football, he only considered two schools, Alabama and UGA. Alabama didn’t have a scholarship spot, and invited him to join the program as a walk-on.

“I think Alabama made its decision when they told Joseph to see financially what he could do (as a walk-on),” his mother said.

UGA’s coaches got to personally evaluate Ledbetter’s skill when he showed up for Dawg Night last week. He looked a little rusty from football, but definitely passed the eyeball test with his physical frame and raw athleticism.

UGA took around a week to think about it. The Bulldogs offered a scholarship last Friday that was quickly accepted.

“I think God’s favor is awesome,” his mother said. “You can’t describe it. You can’t explain it. When you trust God for something that you want and you work hard for it, your action and your faith will get you things in life that you desire.

“And I think that’s what happened with Joseph. He went out and aggressively pursued two schools. He had faith in what he was doing, and he put his heart into it. And God honored his heart, and have him exactly what he wanted. I don’t know how to explain it. I don’t even need to explain it. I just have to thank God for it, and accept it.”

UGA had a scholarship spot open up at tight end last month when 2014 signee Hunter Atkinson quit the team for undisclosed reasons shortly after reporting for summer classes.

What do I think? UGA must think Jonathan Ledbetter hung the moon as a prospect because this is most definitely a package-deal offer to give the Bulldogs their best chance to flip the Alabama commitment. UGA wouldn’t just do this for anybody. There have been rumors for months that Jonathan is considering a flip, even before Joe’s name got brought up, and this might just do it. As far as Joe, I don’t think there’s a remote chance he gets this scholarship offer off the bat if his younger brother isn’t his younger brother (he’d probably be invited to walk-on, like Alabama did). As far as Joe, he surprisingly looked pretty good at Dawg Night for a guy who hasn’t played football in at least four years (since his sophomore year at Tucker). He’s a big kid with a good frame and good athleticism. If you watch his basketball film, he looks like a football player who plays basketball. At Dawg Night, Joe certainly looked like he belonged on the field with the rest of the elite prospects — but he did have the advantage of being at least three years older than most of them. As far as UGA, you’ve got to love this aggressive style of recruiting if you’re a fan of the Bulldogs. You can’t give all of the credit to new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt but some things have definitely changed since he arrived in Athens. You get the feeling that both Robert Nkemdiche and Dillon Lee would both be playing at UGA if the Bulldogs had been this aggressive in past years. This is the second type of crafty package deal in the last couple of months (the other was UGA offering a last-minute basketball scholarship to the sister of 5-star commit Terry Godwin). As far as Joe Ledbetter’s situation specifically, UGA had little to risk and a lot to gain, in my opinion. Who knows? Joe may have success like other college basketball players who switched late to football to play tight end (Jimmy Graham, Antonio Gates, etc.). Worst case, he could play special teams next week. Or he may be a bust. But if he’s a bust, he’ll only be taking up a scholarship for two years, or three at the max. UGA has some scholarships to burn after losing some players in the offseason, so why not throw a dart? Especially since Joe’s younger brother is one of the nation’s top defensive linemen. This is a game-changer for UGA’s recruitment of Jonathan. Now he and his mother will be making frequent trips to Athens this year for Joe, giving the Bulldog coaches more opportunities for exposure. If I was a college coach, I’d do deals like this to try to secure the prospects I most wanted … all day long.

TO GET THE BIG PICTURE

Got an item? mcarvell@ajc.com

mcarvell@ajc.com

– By Michael Carvell, AJC’s Recruiting Blog

Note: Inappropriate BLOG comments and personal attacks will NOT be tolerated. We love the lively discussions but hate-filled, harassing and irresponsible comments are unacceptable.

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110 comments
greenedefense
greenedefense

The problem is not UGA, Texas A&M, Alabama or any of the Universities! The problem is the decision making of the athlete! If the athlete makes a bad or poor decision then there will be consequences to face. Athletes need to think about the consequences before making decisions that may affect their lives!

Blackoutanyone
Blackoutanyone

Would encouge him to listen to 5* Ce Ce Jefferson. "A lot of their players are getting in trouble lately," Jefferson said. "That's a caution flag for me. I don't know what their problem is, but it's kind of crazy to me how their top players are getting in trouble. … Something seems to be up down there, so once I go back I've got to sit and talk with coach Pruitt and ask about that."

Either way, I wish the kid the best of luck wherever he may choose to play.

Roll Tide

OriginalATLien
OriginalATLien

MC, why does this article say he is 6'3 239 and the other article say he is 6'5 220? Which one is accurate?

Dawg-Gawn
Dawg-Gawn

Brothers don't let brothers become Gumps...

"BELIEVE" in the G

BCB
BCB

UGA took a page right out of Bama's playbook on this deal. GO DAWGS!

BOR
BOR

6-foot-3, 239 pounds and can jump like a deer. He looks like a shot block master with great timings. Ideal for special team field goal blocker. I don't see anything wrong to recruit this guy. There is no lose here.

TEXAS DAWG
TEXAS DAWG

I think only someone in total denial would say that this is not an attempt to get his younger brother in the fold. That being said, it is also a smart move because UGA needs tight ends after the most recent bizarre departure. When Ole Miss took  Robert Nkemdiche's brother, everyone said that was a wasted scholarship because an undersized linebacker could not play in the SEC. Seems he has proven then wrong on that and with Joseph Ledbetter being a pretty darn good athlete, along with the need for a tight end, it was a low risk/high reward calculated gamble.

Bamaman16
Bamaman16

I think its pretty desperate of UGA to waste a football scholarship on a basketball player in hopes of signing his younger brother.  It really is surprising more people don't use the Bama method to entice players.  We set up a plan for new cars with no down payments and minimum monthly payments with a balloon payment after they turn pro.  If they don't turn pro and are unable to make that balloon payment, their eligibility is already finished and who cares.

WhiskeyBreath
WhiskeyBreath

Mike,

Don't you think this is a sleezy way of recruting? You burn a scholly for a player you wouldn't normally recruit

to steal a recruit committed to a rival school. Since the scholly is worth 200k, you are legally buying a player. 

Not to mention the brother didn[t earn the scholly while the rest of the the Ga recruits did. . 

Yea, that is part of the Ga Way. 

SlawDawg
SlawDawg

You 'necks are killing me. You are acting like Bedwetter is a 5 star blue chip prospect. He is a BASKETBALL player from a small hick college nobody has ever heard of. Is the Tanned One really that desperate? Well I guess with all the arrests, suspensions, and dismissals Richt cannot afford to be choosy. No way in **** his brother flips from Alabubba. You 'necks are delusional....which is typical this time each year. Remember 0-2 to start the season!! LMAO

kerryb
kerryb

I don't think this has as much to do with Pruitt as it does with what Ole Miss did in 2013.  Richt's not going to do the illegal stuff that the teams in Alabama do but he can do this, which is perfectly legal.  He's going to do whatever it takes to keep the best players in GEORGIA in GEORGIA.   It worked out this time because they had an opening at TE and Ledbetter is a mature player who has the size and is athletic.  Who knows, he may turn out to be a good TE.  Richt has nothing to lose in this.  What I love hearing now is the Bama fans that say that we really don't need Ledbetter.  Really?  You don't need the 24th best player and 3rd best DE in the country?  If UGA also gets Josh Sweat the #11 player and 2nd best DE then your going to have to worry about those guys in Atlanta in December.

dawginbama
dawginbama

@Blackoutanyone that's the misconception recruits get bc all of our arrests are front page news.  it happens everywhere the dirty laundry just isn't hung out to dry at most sec schools.

OriginalATLien
OriginalATLien

Never mind MC, I saw your response to another poster below....thanks!

KeepOnSmilingWetWillie
KeepOnSmilingWetWillie

@Dawg-Gawn The Gump's have trophies and you have this blog. Look up as far as you can see and you might be able to see Bama in the rankings. Then again you already knew that.

DavidPuddy
DavidPuddy

@BCB Wrong....  Saban never offer a family package just to get one kid.   I challenge you to provide as proof ONE just ONE example of Coach Saban doing something like this

BrownDog
BrownDog

Saban doesn't do family packages, and lost Kenan Allen on signing day four years back because he wouldn't sign big bro. Richt is likely to give the scholarship to a walk-on, so why not try this? It's only stupid if it doesn't work. What was the name of Crowell's 's high school bud again?

Modestine
Modestine

@TEXAS DAWG  Denzel Nkemdiche wasn't highly recruited because it appeared he was going to be a non-qualifier. 

Snagglepuss
Snagglepuss

@WhiskeyBreath 


Nobody asked for, or wants, your opinion on ANYTHING  UGA!!!!!!!!!!!


"You are L E G A L L Y buying a player"!!!!!!!!!!!


Pay attention!!!!!  The key word is "Legally"

dawginbama
dawginbama

@WhiskeyBreath he was offered after trying out at dawg night not before.  if huntere atkinson hadnt up and quit we wouldn't have offered. ledbetter has been projected to flip with or without his brother at uga. we had scholly to use and we just secured one of the best dl in the country for 2015.  don't under stand the hate?

Snagglepuss
Snagglepuss

@SlawDawg 


Exactly  what is your concern in all of these activities???????????


Are you afraid Saban The 8Th Dwarf will lose a good recruit???  It is payback time for The Dwarf swiping a 5* RB(You know the one riding in the new BAMMY dodge).


We may start the season 0-2 but you definitely won't bet on that will you?? How much did you lose betting Bammy would NOT end their 2013 season with a 2-game LOSING STREAK and no real threat at QB for the 2014 season??????


You couldn't find your a$$ with both hands in you hip pockets!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Snagglepuss
Snagglepuss

@SlawDawg (aka  KY JELLY TEEN)


Speaking of 0-2 isn't that the way the  ONCE-MIGHTY  Bammy ended their 2013 season???


LMBWFAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Snagglepuss
Snagglepuss

@SlawDawg  (aka KY JELLY TEEN)


Will you pay attention "nutcase"??????


Nobody asked you IDIOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

kerryb
kerryb

@SlawDawg Man,  are you finished with that stupid rant?  You got it off your chest now?  Take 10 deep breathes and a chill pill nimrod.

KeepOnSmilingWetWillie
KeepOnSmilingWetWillie

@kerryb You recall Crowell and his teammate Barrow,Godwin and his sister that averages less than 3 points per game in Juco. Sony Michel and his brother? Not to mention Theus and his brother.

WhiskeyBreath
WhiskeyBreath

@kerryb You idiot, Bama doesn't need to do anything sleezy with recruiting.

Saban has won the championship for 4 straight years.

They are beating his door down to get into his program.

Idiot

Blackoutanyone
Blackoutanyone

@Hobnail Boot I follow Alabama recruiting pretty close and I can't recall Saban ever offering a walk on caliber player a scholly to land the commitment of another.  So I'm not sure what you mean by "out Sabaned".  

Dawg-Gawn
Dawg-Gawn

@KeepOnSmilingWetWillie

FYI - If you look closely at all those man-made crystal trophies... one can see right through them... meaning they are hollow inside... meant only to establish a sense of security just for those who have a need to boast and who most often suffer from a inferiority complex... "A boasting tongue/fingers reveals an insecure heart"...

When I look up I see Faith... Faith talks. When faith talks, it talks faith, not fear and unbelief... I also look forward to... Alabama... anytime... anywhere... everytime!

And I tell this to a man who has never found his way out of the state of Alabama in 64 years?

Dawgs-Back-n-Black

"BELIEVE" in the G

KeepOnSmilingWetWillie
KeepOnSmilingWetWillie

@BrownDog Don't mention Cootie, nor the deal with Godwin's sister and her 3 points per game average at a Juco nor Sony Michel's brother or the Theus brothers. Mark Richt resides in the Amen Corner and would never ever never ever stoop to suck a low level.

TEXAS DAWG
TEXAS DAWG

@Modestine 

That was part of it, but he was considered undersized for a linebacker (198) and slow for a DB (4.6). (From Rivals 2011 recruiting Denzel Nkemdiche 0 stars DB Loganville, GA Grayson 5'11"198 4.6) NOTE ZERO stars. They took a calculated risk and hit 2 on winners. Richt is doing the same thing.

Bamaman16
Bamaman16

@KeepOnSmilingWetWillie @Bamaman16  Will be an alumni of the University of Alabama in 2016.  Can you make that same  for any year?  Just stating a fact, you been in the players parking lot?  You think all our high ranking players just like Dodges?  Its a much better plan than wasting a football scholarship on a basketball player in hopes of flipping his brother.  I guess we will find out if playing with his brother is more important to him than have new Dodge wheels to ride around campus.  ROLL  TIDE1!!!!!!!

WhiskeyBreath
WhiskeyBreath

You idiot, he was offered not because of his outstanding showing at Brother's camp,

but because he is the brother of Jonathan. I am not sure he is even rated by the recruiting sites. He is a division 2 basketball player. Rarely can you play both and be any good.    

DawgNole
DawgNole

@WhiskeyBreath @kerryb

Saban hasn't won any championship for 4 straight years, you dumbazz. Looks like you're a liar, too. And it's "sleazy," idiot.

Time4Bama
Time4Bama

@Blackoutanyone @Hobnail Boot Keenan Allen was turned down by Saban in a package deal with his brother and Keenan was a 5 star.  If Alabama loses one great player, they have a better chance than other schools of landing another great or  good player.

Pruit will really help UGA.  He has been putting his learning time at Alabama to good use.

Globeflyer
Globeflyer

@Dawg-Gawn @KeepOnSmilingWetWillie If they are "hollow inside", then why all the angst among the Dawg Nation for not having but one in the last 60+ years? Call ESPN and the BCS up and have them stop all this nonsense!!

Snagglepuss
Snagglepuss

@Bamaman16 @KeepOnSmilingWetWillie 


Make that "Will be a ALUMNUS" unless you are pregnant!!!!


Maybe you are being "Overly  Optimistic" when you say you will be an alumni/alumnus in 2016 or have you already been G I V E N  a passing grade in ENGLISH/Grammar(aka Bammyrized)!!!!!!

Snagglepuss
Snagglepuss

@WhiskeyBreath(aka KY JELLY BREATH) 


Actually I fail to see where any of this should be of concern to you!!!!

dawginbama
dawginbama

@WhiskeyBreath if his brother didn't exist he would not have gotten an offer i am not disagreeing with that, but the fact is we are very thin at TE and we had a scholarship to give bc of Atkinsons departure.  Why not use a scholly if you have it to secure one of the best players of 2015.  Quit crying bama its pathetic

Bamaman16
Bamaman16

@KeepOnSmilingWetWillie @Bamaman16  and you just confirmed you are a sidewalk fan who couldn't find the bookstore at UA.  Do you still have your Scam gear for their one big year?  Now you run alone sidewalker, I am tired of people like you who think kids are falling all over themselves to come to Bama just because we are Bama.  Makes all of us look as stupid as you.  Did you wear UF gear and have a Gator tag when Tebow was there?

WhiskeyBreath
WhiskeyBreath

@dawginbama @WhiskeyBreath Crying, Bama has more national champions than anybody in NCAA history.

More N.C. than Ga has SEC championships. 

We got argubly the best HC in college history, behind Bear Bryant. 

And we don't have a coward , phony , zipper head coach. 

We have a man that is not afraid to look up the biggest , ugliest

player on the team and straighten him out.  


Snagglepuss
Snagglepuss

@WhiskeyBreath(aka KY JELLY BREATH) @dawginbama 


We,we,we,we,we,we !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!you have no more influence in anything Bama than your boyfriend so put a sock in it!!!


We means you are pregnant!!!!!!Nothing else!!!