ATHENS — Defensive lineman Jonathan Ledbetter will be suspended for Georgia’s season opener against North Carolina after his arrest over the weekend, head coach Kirby Smart confirmed.
“Jonathan made a huge mistake,” Smart said. “He embarrassed himself, he embarrassed our team, his family and our family. I’m really disappointed in Jonathan. He knows that we can’t handle that behavior. We can’t have that behavior. You’re held to a higher standard when you come to the University of Georgia. And he should know that. He made a critical mistake.”
The one-game suspension is in accordance with UGA’s student-athlete handbook, Smart said.
Ledbetter was arrested early Sunday after police said he attempted to enter a downtown Athens bar with a fake ID and while “very inebriated.” He was charged with possessing or making a false ID and underage possession/furnishing alcohol. Both are misdemeanors.
“A decision does not define you, is what I told him,” Smart said. “So this poor decision he made does not define him. But he has got to take some corrective measures, we’ve got to get him some help.”
Ledbetter, who spoke to the team to apologize, also tweeted out an apology on Tuesday night.
“Apologies to the Bulldog Nation, my teammates, coaches, and family. I made a mistake and will give my best to UGA from here on out.”
Ledbetter will also be punished internally, according to Smart.
“He is very remorseful,” Smart said. “We hope that he learns a lesson from this.”
There’s already one sophomore defensive lineman who will miss the season opener: Chauncey Rivers is in the midst of a suspension for violating the school’s marijuana policy. Rivers was arrested twice late last season for marijuana possession, and a second violation incurs a four-game suspension. He served the first game in the bowl, so presumably has three more to serve at the start of the season.
Georgia’s defensive line depth isn’t very good after losing four seniors off last year’s team, all of whom were part of the rotation. Sophomore Trent Thompson and junior John Atkins are the top returners, but they’re both interior linemen, so the team needs ends. Signees David Marshall and Chauncey Manac are due to arrive this summer and will have a chance to play right away.
But Smart said after Tuesday’s practice that he liked what he saw out of the young defensive linemen, naming Michael Barnett, DaQuan Hawkins and Justin Young, along with Atkins.