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.
The Recruiting Guy:
Hutchinson recruit fits Bielema mold
Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema often speaks of seeking uncommon men for the Razorbacks program.
Highly regarded junior college defensive end Jeremiah Ledbetter, who wraps up his official visit to Fayetteville today, seems to fit that description.
Ledbetter, 6-4, 265 pounds, 4.72 seconds in the 40-yard dash, plays for Hutchinson Community College in Kansas and has scholarship offers from several schools -- including Arkansas, Florida, Georgia and Miami -- but all the attention doesn't seem to have gone to his head.
His Twitter account and Facebook page are void of boastful comments or mentions of his accomplishments. Most of the comments are about teammates and others who are receiving accolades.
Ledbetter attributes much of his outlook on life to his father, Weldon.
"I guess when I was younger I would think everything was about me," said Ledbetter, who visited Arkansas for a scrimmage in April. "As I grew older, he told me not everything is about you and be humble as it says in the Bible. Be humble and listen to your father and your mother and everything will come to you."
Weldon Ledbetter lettered at Oklahoma in 1979, 1980 and 1982 as a running back and was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the seventh round in the 1983 NFL draft. He said he and his wife, Sharon, who have been married for 33 years, raised Jeremiah and their other four children with religion as the base.
"Jeremiah understands the core values of being a Christian and how he should conduct himself and how it reflects on his own character as well how people may view him and perceive him," Weldon Ledbetter said.
"He learned to be very humble and very appreciative of anything or blessings one gets," Weldon Ledbetter said. "When you have that type of background and things begin to happen for you, you become very thankful for what's going on for you and what's happening in your life."
Ledbetter said his father has encouraged him work hard at everything he does.
"Any specific thing you do as far as working out or school," said Ledbetter, who made an unofficial visit to Miami on Monday and plans an official visit to Florida during the season. "When you do it, do it all. Give it all you got to the best of your ability."
Ledbetter was second on the team in tackles as a freshman at Hutchinson with 69. He had 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.
Hutchinson Coach Rion Rhoades said Ledbetter isn't concerned about any lack of publicity.
"He's without a doubt one of the best players," Rhoades said. "You could argue he's the best in a lot of areas and he probably hasn't received the most hype, and that's not a big deal to him. That's different than most kids. Most kids would be bent out of shape about that. Led lets his play speak for itself."
Ledbetter and his older brother Isaiah started playing football on the Pop Warner level, but it wasn't because their father pushed them in that direction. Weldon took the two to watch other children playing football and let them decide if they wanted to participate.
"They said, 'Absolutely, Dad, we want to play,' " Weldon Ledbetter said. "Jeremiah, when he went out there, he did just a fantastic job. He played on the offensive line and they also played him at running back. He was just unbelievable."
Ledbetter said his father sat back and observed before making any suggestions.
"He would teach me and coach me up on it," Ledbetter said. "I guess everything worked out."
Rhoades said Ledbetter ranks high among the players he's coached.
"He's definitely one of the best players." Rhoades said. "I've had some really high-level defensive linemen, and a couple of them are still playing in the SEC. He's also one of the best guys and hardest workers. That's obviously a coach's dream right there."
Ledbetter said he is appreciative of his upbringing.
"I was blessed to have my dad, both of my parents, because not every child has both of their parents," Ledbetter said. "I was extremely blessed by all the things he taught me."
Weldon Ledbetter said he is proud of the person his son has become.
"Jeremiah always loved his mom, a momma's kid, and loved to be around his parents," he said. "He didn't want to go anywhere and associate with other people. He was a great young kid.
"Never had any problems out of Jeremiah, none whatsoever."
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Sports on 06/27/2014