ATLANTA — Georgia defensive lineman Jonathan Ledbetter, arrested twice on alcohol-related offense this year, is going through a counseling program and is not with the team right now.
Ledbetter will return to the team at an undetermined time, and is doing well, head coach Kirby Smart said on Monday.
“He’s going to see a specialist. He’s getting help,” Smart said. “And that’s important to me. Jonathan’s not even working out with the team right now. He’s not doing anything with the team right now. That’s what’s more important to me than how many games he gets suspended, at the end of the day. And I wish that could be the focal point instead of what is his punishment, what is his punishment, how many games is he suspended. Let’s not talk about that. Let’s talk about what’s good for Jonathan.”
Smart has declined to say how many games Ledbetter will be suspended. UGA policy mandates a two-game suspension for a DUI, which Ledbetter was charged with July 10. Smart told ESPN.com last week that the amount of Ledbetter’s suspension might “surprise everybody.” That led a local media member on Monday night to follow up by asking Smart what he meant by that.
“Basically we’ll find out as he goes along. It’s not a set, determined number as of right now. It’s a situation that’s kind of fluid and moving,” Smart said. “It’s more important to me that you guys would ask how Jonathan’s doing. Because nobody asks that. The only question I get whenever I go somewhere is what’s Jonathan’s suspension going to be. I’m waiting on one of y’all to come up and ask, How’s Jonathan doing?”
A media member then asked that question. That led to Smart’s first comment in this story.
According to the Athens-Clarke County police report, Ledbetter was found asleep behind the wheel of his car, which was still running. It took about a half-hour to wake him up, with the method for reviving him redacted from the official report. After, the report says, saying he felt “this was a hate crime,” Ledbetter eventually took a breathalyzer, which found his blood alcohol level to be at .131 and .138. The legal level in Georgia is .08.
UGA announced a day later that Ledbetter would receive “discipline” but also “intensified education, counseling, and medical assistance program.”
Smart talked Monday about seeing Ledbetter’s mother in his office, in tears, and the coach said he knows what the player is going through.
“So it’s really a situation where he needed help, he is now getting that help, and I hope he can make some changes in his life for the better,” Smart said.