Georgia commit keeps Tucker in playoffs

Jonathan Ledbetter's defensive touchdown put Tucker High School up 26-23 over Grayson High School, advancing them to the third round of the 2014 GHSA AAAAAA state playoffs.

On Nov. 21, dozens of guys across Georgia played their last game of high school football. Jonathan Ledbetter made sure he wasn’t one of them.

Going into the fourth quarter, Tucker High School was down 20-23 to Grayson High School in the second round of the 2014 GHSA AAAAAA state playoffs. Thirteen seconds into the fourth quarter, Ledbetter was charging a fumbled ball into the Tucker endzone, scoring the winning touchdown for the Tigers.

“It felt great. I saw the ball, had to grab it,” Ledbetter said. “My teammate was like, ‘the ball comes to you. It’s like a magnet. You’ve got magnets in your gloves.’”

Lining up all night at nose guard, though he plays almost anywhere on the defensive line, Ledbetter

His natural power and size presence is evident. The 6-foot-4 Georgia commit stands a half helmet taller than anyone else on the Tucker defense. But that’s not the only reason he stands out.

His words also make a difference.

With a 1:30 left in the first half, Ledbetter called to his fellow defensive linemen. Malik Watts, Chris Brown, Rahsaan Crawford and Jerelle Leveritte plopped on a metal bench in front of Ledbetter, standing in front of them, he turned less player, more coach.

“Hey, all I gotta say is, it’s on us…” Ledbetter said. “Stay on the blocks. We gotta grind, grind, grind.”

He continued to encourage and amp up the defense--a defense which did not give up a Grayson touchdown the entire second half.

By the time Tucker officially claimed the win, temperatures had dropped into the mid-30s. And while his future defensive coordinator has recently been very vocal about the negative side effects of playing in cold weather, Ledbetter took no issue with the temperature drop.

“It’s nothing. You can see I’ve got no sleeves on,” Ledbetter said, bearing his oversized arms exploding from his maroon jersey and shoulder pads. “The whole thing’s mental. Every part of football is mental. Ninety percent mental, ten percent skill.

At the mention of joining his brother, Joseph Ledbetter, in Athens in less than two months, Ledbetter’s already mega-watt smile lit up even more. While talking of his excitement, he lifted his hands from his hips to show off the only visible sign of his college commitment: red and black gloves.

Ledbetter and the Tucker Tigers (10-2) host McEachern High School (9-3) in the third round of the playoffs Friday, Nov. 28, where they will face USC commit OL Chuma Edoga. The winner will advance to a AAAAAA semifinal against the winner of Colquitt County-Milton.

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