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.
Ledbetter special player and person
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema, back, watches on as Jared Cornelius catches a pass during spring football practice Tuesday, April 22, 2014, at University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.
Coach Rion Rhoades of Hutchinson Community College in Kansas believes defensive end Jeremiah Ledbetter, an Arkansas target, is among the best he’s ever coached.
“He’s definitely one of the best players I’ve had,” Rhoades said. “I’ve had some really high level defensive linemen and a couple of them still playing in the SEC. I think the thing that makes him so special is he can play big because he’s very strong and explosive. He can also play that speed role too at end.”
Ledbetter, 6-4, 265 pounds, 4.72 seconds in the 40-yard dash, made an official visit to Fayetteville on June 25-27. His parents, Weldon and Sharon also made the trip.
The Hogs want Ledbetter to come in and replace senior Trey Flowers after the 2014 season.
“He can pay multiple positions depending on the scheme,” Rhoades said. “To me, that’s a huge, huge upside when you talk rotations and guys getting dinged up and having some flexibility. Led gives you that flexibility as a D-line coach.”
Last year, Ledbetter recorded 69 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, 11 quarterback hurries, 2 pass break-ups, 3 deflected passes and a 7-yard interception return for a score.
He made an unofficial visit to Miami on June 23 and plans to make an official visit to Florida during the season and have a decision about a week later.
Rhoades said Ledbetter is a quiet leader and rarely saids anything, but has the respect of his coaches and teammates.
"When he does everybody listens,” said Rhoades, who was a freshman at Hutchinson when Arkansas offensive line coach Sam Pittman was the head coach for the Blue Dragons in the early 1990's. “I remember specifically one time this spring at practice, we’re doing a drill with the O-line and D-line guys and Led kind of let out of a yell at the end of a play.”
“It was just a real competitive rep with he and the O-lineman and it was almost like practice stopped. I felt like I had to get everybody going again because everyone was surprised to hear something from him .”
The way Ledbetter carries himself off the field is just as impressive as his play.
“Jeremiah is a Christian kid, his faith is important to him,” Rhoades said. “It’s so valuable that he’s one of the best players on the team and he’s also one of the best guys and hardest workers. That’s obviously a coach’s dream right there.”