2012 Intro: Rhaheim Ledbetter

SHELBY, N.C. --- No matter where he's playing, there's one word to describe Rhaheim Ledbetter's style – physical.

"He enjoys the contact that football brings," Crest head coach Mark Barnes said. "Whether he's on defense [or] whether he's on offense, he's going to be physical.

"If you're the receiver catching the ball, most of the time he tries to dislodge the ball. And he's a good open field tackler. He's a guy that you can bring down into the box and play like a linebacker from the safety position.

"The same thing offensively. He was our leading scorer by far with very limited carries. He has a strong will when he has the ball. And when you tackle him, he's going to be physical – he's going to try to punish you. He doesn't receive contact very well – he likes to be on the delivering end."

In Crest's base 4-3 defense, Ledbetter is primarily a safety, but the 5-foot-11, 190-pounder is often used as an extra linebacker.

"We're more of a quarters type coverage team, where [Ledbetter] is going to be involved in run fit in the box all the time from, what we call, ‘third level defender,'" Barnes said. "We will also bring him down and make him be an outside linebacker in our odd front and our nickel [formation] he's moved in all the way to a linebacker position."

Ledbetter ended his junior season with 60 tackles, five for a loss, and four forced fumbles.

Offensively, Ledbetter was used largely in short-yardage situations last season. On the season, he rushed for 22 touchdowns and 567 yards on 106 carries.

"We were gifted enough last year at running back where we had two guys that we felt we could win with, so we didn't need Rhaheim over there [as much]," Barnes said.

With one of the two aforementioned running backs graduating, Barnes believes Ledbetter will be involved more offensively this coming season.

Due to all his accomplishments on defense, the assumption is that Ledbetter is a safety on the collegiate level. Barnes doesn't necessarily agree.

"I think he could be a college running back," Barnes said. "… I believe you win on defense and special teams, so we're going to put our best players on defense and special teams first. I'm not sure I would say that he's not going to be a college tailback, because he has the ability to play that position."

Ledbetter is mainly being recruited as a safety, his preferred position.

"Most people are recruiting him as a defensive guy, but a couple of people have said ‘we think he could also be a tailback,'" Barnes said.

According to Ledbetter, Clemson, Florida, North Carolina, NC State, and South Carolina have verbally offered him a scholarship.

"I haven't talked to anybody that has been through that hasn't [offered]," Barnes said.

Ledbetter's interests, though, lie in one conference.

"I'm trying to go to an SEC school," Ledbetter said. "I'm trying to play with the elite [and] I'm trying to go with the most competition.

"As right now, no SEC school is sticking out. I just want to play at an SEC school."

Furthermore, Ledbetter is a cousin of New England Patriot Brandon Spikes, a Crest alum who played his collegiate career at Florida.

"[My family connection to Spikes] isn't going to be a big factor," Ledbetter said.

Besides playing in the SEC, Ledbetter is looking for a school with good academics, a coaching staff that will challenge him and has a track record of sending players to the NFL.

Despite his desire to play in the SEC, the only two recruiting trips Ledbetter has made are to ACC schools – Clemson and UNC. He will, though, attend an upcoming junior day at Florida.

"Both visits [to Clemson and UNC] were pretty straight forward," Ledbetter said.

Video provided by Jason Pughe of AthleteVault.com.

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