ATHENS — There’s a very good chance Jonathan Ledbetter could make the first start of his career this Saturday against Florida. And even if he doesn’t, it’s clear that the sophomore defensive end is going to play a big role in the contest.
Ledbetter was working at left defensive end with the No. 1 defensive unit during media viewing periods Tuesday at UGA’s Club Sports Complex.
“He is a starter in certain personnel groupings,” head coach Kirby Smart acknowledged during his post-practice briefing Tuesday. “So if you saw him out there with the 1s, if they’re in a certain personnel grouping, he’s a starter. If they’re in a different personnel grouping, he’s not.”
Other than having played in only one other game all season, it’s not really that much of a surprise. The 6-foot-4, 251-pound Ledbetter had been slated to start at defensive end ever since the Bulldogs exited spring practice last April. But he ran afoul of Georgia’s drug and alcohol policy when he was arrested for DUI this summer and, because it wasn’t his first offense, he missed the first six games while receiving outpatient treatment and serving a suspension.
Ledbetter made his comeback against Vanderbilt and played extensively. He finished with four tackles and was credited with half a tackle for loss while playing primarily on passing downs.
“He never really lost that form because he was working with us and he was working with the scout team,” Smart said. “Like I said, he did a good job with them. But he has a different trait than most of our guys because he has some fast twitch. He’s quick. He’s more explosive. He’s what more people are playing with now instead of just the big guys. So he gives us kind of a good change up.”