Richard Davenport covers recruiting for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He is the host of Recruiting Thursday, a weekly radio show that airs from 7 to 8 p.m. on 92.1 FM in Fayetteville; 93.7 FM in Little Rock; 95.3 FM in Fort Smith; 96.3 FM in Hot Springs; 104.3 FM in Harrison/Mountain Home; and 106.9 FM in Arkadelphia.
Arkansas visit a hit with Ledbetter and parents
FAYETTEVILLE The Arkansas coaches, fans and Fayetteville impressed highly regarded defensive end Jeremiah Ledbetter and his parents during last week’s official visit.
“It was very good,” said Ledbetter, who arrived on Wednesday and left on Friday. “They were very welcoming, they’re diehard Razorback fans and that's what I like. People that are that are committed to the program and will do anything for the program.”
Ledbetter, 6-4, 265 pounds, 4.72 seconds in the 40-yard dash, of Hutchinson Community College in Kansas made an unofficial visit to Arkansas for a spring scrimmage in April. His scholarship offers include Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Miami and others.
His father, Weldon played running back for Oklahoma and lettered in 1979, 1979 and 1982 and was a 7th round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 1983 NFL Draft. He and his wife, Sharon enjoyed the scenery of Fayetteville.
“It reminds us much of Oklahoma when we were in Norman,” Weldon Ledbetter said. “But it's a lot more picturesque I would say and a lot more trees.”
Ledbetter, whose lead recruiter is offensive line coach Sam Pittman, said his relationship with defensive line coach Rory Segrest and defensive coordinator Robb Smith grew.
“I think this official made it even better,” Ledbetter said. “Coach Segrest is a good guy. He knows what he’s talking about and also coach Smith, he’s very passionate about what he does and I think they’ll do pretty good this season”
After learning more about Coach Bret Bielema’s program, Weldon would have no qualms about his son playing out his college career at Arkansas.
“Absolutely, absolutely, we had a chance to visit with the coaching staff firsthand, the position coach, the defensive coordinator, the head coach,” Weldon Ledbetter said. They were really expressing their desire for Jeremiah to be a part of the program. It's a great feeling to understand that and I know that.”
He appreciates the way Bielema and the staff look to develop the players as individuals in a positive atmosphere.
“Very professional approach, something I grew up in at the University of Oklahoma and (Barry) Switzer ‘s approach and how he worked with players, really a players coach,” Weldon Ledbetter said. “I know how I felt about that and I would love my son to be a part of that.”
He took an unofficial visit to Miami last Monday and another to Florida in May. He plans to officially visit the Gators during the season and will make a decision about a week later.
Sharon Ledbetter had some reservations about Arkansas before the trip, but that faded away after spending 48 hours in Fayetteville.
“Coming here, I had my thoughts,” she said. “I really thought it was too far from Florida. Since he's in Kansas, he’s far. Arkansas’s not that far away. I'm glad I took this visit because it totally changed the way I was thinking for the good. I'm glad I came on this trip and met coach B and all the other coaches the players. I couldn't ask for anything more, they did a fantastic job.”
The younger Ledbetter was impressed how Smith and Segrest broke down the defense and their plans for him.
“They were good they showed me how I could fit in at the defense line,” Jeremiah Ledbetter said. “How I would fluctuate from position to position and how I could succeed in their defense”
He and his parents had dinner at Coach Bielema’s house Thursday night.
“He welcomed me into his home,” Jeremiah Ledbetter said. “He's the head coach and everything he does, he’s a man of his word.”