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December 29, 2017

Jonathan Ledbetter

Pasadena, California

JONATHAN LEDBETTER: I feel we have a big offensive line. We've been watching a lot of tape on these guys. They are big and physical. They like to have their way with a lot of teams. Definitely seeing it. So definitely going to have to do a good job. Definitely get our hands on the blockers.

Q. (Inaudible question.)
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: I feel we played a lot of good team this year. I don't want to say it's the best offensive line we've faced because we haven't faced them yet. We'll have to face the music when it starts playing.

Q. What about Orlando?
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: I feel he's a good athlete. He's from my neck of the woods in Atlanta, Georgia. His dad was a great player, so definitely has the physical skill set to be a good offensive lineman.

Q. Do you know him personally?
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: I actually don't know him personally. I know he's from my side of town but that's really it, no personal ties.

Q. (Inaudible question.)
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: I actually have. We played Notre Dame. I played them pretty well. Mississippi State had a really great offensive line. Same as Mizzou, those guys are really big and physical. In the SEC you face a lot of big, physical guys. I know out here is different. He definitely is one of -- he looks like an offensive lineman, so I'm pretty familiar with his field and frame.

Q. How does that compare to Big 12 football, physical -- what do you see?
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: Well, I think it could be compared to the SEC. I think it's Oklahoma. They have a very strong running game. They feel like the pass and scramble in the pocket and run around. They definitely have a dominant run game. They average almost five, six yards per carry. They have a good staple of running backs. A lot of dynamic players. They can make plays like any SEC team can. They have big guys up front. I don't see why they couldn't compete.

You see a lot of other teams that try to do fastballs, get you tired, stuff like that. Just because they can't be as physical. I think this Oklahoma team can be pretty physical when they want to be.

Q. (Inaudible question.)
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: Yeah. Yeah. They're always hot. They're always going fast. That's what they kind of pride themselves on. Just fast football. I don't think people can keep up. We've got fast guys all around. We got guys running sideline to sideline. Chasing stuff down. Fast. Physical.

Q. (Inaudible question.)
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: Well, I feel like our team and leadership has done a really good job monitoring those distractions and acknowledging they are there. Keeping the main thing the main thing. We've been doing that this whole year. We had two amazing practices the last few days. We had great practices at home. We think everybody is hungry and ready to go and play.

Q. (Inaudible question.)
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: It is honestly. Whatever you do on the field is prime time. It's about production. Get your hands right. Get your pad level low and just be productive and do your thing. That's what our guys do on defense. I know our offensive guys work twice as hard.

Q. (Inaudible question.)
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: We tried to focus on ourselves, you know, you always going to play another team, but the most important thing is your team. The most important thing is your team. So we tell ourselves just focus on us. We had a lot of days heading back to Athens. We don't want to focus on our punting too much and tire ourselves out. I think coaches have done a good job managing time.

Q. (Inaudible question.
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: I feel they got a lot of things going on. Like I said, we played a lot of great teams. We had to pay respect to everybody. We played throughout the season and never know until we play the next team. So we'll see.

Q. What do you think of their offensive linemen.
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: You already asked me that question but I'll answer it again. Yeah. No problem, no problem.

Like I said, they some big guys, they have a big frame like that. They move pretty well. They are like SEC offensive lineman in the Big 12. I got respect for them. I can't wait to play for them. I love competition myself, so it will be exciting.

Q. Good answer. Two young coaches in their coaching career, I don't know if -- maybe also physically.
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: Well, a little unknown fact most people don't know. I committed to Alabama but Kirby actually told me he would end up coaching me one day after I switched my commitment to Georgia. Little did I know he was going to become my head coach. Honestly, that's one of my greatest moments. He's a great guy. He's good with my family and everything. It's surreal to have him as a coach right now. Everybody is loving it. He's a great coach. He works hard. He just kind of pushes you to the point like not working hard anymore. We're just having fun, loving the game every single game.

Q. Let me get this straight. You -- Kirby is at Alabama he said --
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: I'm going to coach you one day.

Q. What year was it?
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: This was my junior year of high school.

Q. So he --
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: Honestly, yeah. He knew -- no, no, no. He knew nothing of it. He never knew he was going to get the head coaching job at Georgia, so, it was kind of prophetic. The way it played out it was really crazy.

Q. He told you, when you told him you were going to -- that's when he told you that?

Q. Your senior year? Was he laughing or smiling?
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: I think he said it jokingly. He was laughing.

Q. He thought you were going to switch out.
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: I think he did. Because they tried really hard. I came back and then made it like a final, like I'm going to go to Georgia. But I did want to give me back. They tried for a while. So that may have been what he was saying -- like I'm going to get you back here. But it didn't pan out that way.

Q. (Inaudible question.)
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: He actually -- the first day he came in. He talked to me and Terry and said, I told you I would, I told you I would. It was crazy, because we had that team meeting, we knew he was going to be the head coach. I hadn't seen him in two years. Love is love. He kind of embraced me and we went from there.

Q. (Inaudible question.)
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: You never know. That's like, you go out there and you see him. But honestly, I want to play against him. Like I said, I love competition. He's a Heisman Trophy winner, and I would love to see if my skill set holds up to that. That would be a great move to measure where I am at.

Q. Jon, you got to know -- how does that compare?
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: They had their similarities. They kind of coach the same. I guess Nick Saban's more kind of a stern, stern kind of guy, like dry sense of humor. Great coach, smart man, brilliant. Kirby's also brilliant, but I feel he's into it a little more because he's younger. He definitely gets on you. He'll take over a whole practice if he needs to.

Q. (Inaudible question.)
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: It's just family. It's just family. That's one of the things that drew me to Georgia. And I always pride myself on that. Like we're a family. Everybody's together. You think, you feel, and you just being is one. We're united as a whole team. If you call any brother from a walk-on, to a starter, to a leader to strength staff. You got strength staff helping you pay a phone bill online. You know what I'm saying? Or help like try to pay your taxes, learn how to do stuff like that.

It's just kind of surreal. You have a big family bond here at Georgia. And you can't find that everywhere and that's one thing that's really, really unique about Georgia. It's a whole family.

Q. Nick said yesterday that Kirby -- how much did he talk about --
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: He really hasn't done it too much. It's because, you know, we're a whole different team. We're not that team that he had and he understands that. He definitely wants us to know what caliber team Oklahoma is, you know what I mean? And he said they came out and scored 31 points. They go fast. That's what the teams do. They try to slow down SEC teams. So we've been working on our conditioning, we've been running extra, putting that extra work on our own without the coaches knowing just to get ready for this game. We know it's going to be a fast, physical game.

Q. (Inaudible question.)
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: Yeah. I reflect every day. I just wake up, my feet hit the ground. I'm just thankful for the blessing I have. Not everybody gets this opportunity. I was kind of naive at first, and I'm just so grateful that I was able to open my eyes to it and just realize how blessed I am as an athlete and just as a human being who is playing the game of football in this collegiate level is so high.

It's not every day you get to sit in front of a microphone, getting interviewed, or you get to fly out to California to play in a football game, or an experience like all of these great activities. It's just really a blessing.

Q. -- going to a place like Georgia, I mean, how difficult --
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: I feel like it's all a process. You have to really buy into the process. I was kind of doing my own thing when I got there. I wasn't into the whole process. I was more on the "do school, have fun type thing" and let football come as it is. And then I kind of found myself, you know, just like you do. You're coming from high school over to college, you're by yourself. That's the first time you're really on your own. I came in early. I was really young. So it really took me a while to find myself and find out who I was in college, and realize that this football thing can take me a long way.

So I was just kind of -- kind of buying into it. That was the best part. That was the hardest part.

Q. Did you talk to him early and say --
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: Not really just because a lot of people are doing the same things, you know? And different people are different. You know what I mean? And I just had to realize for myself, just like everyone else does -- because I'm an older guy now. I have some of the younger guys doing some of the things that necessarily wouldn't have helped them on the football field. Might help them in the classroom. Might have helped them in the social life. You have to figure out on your own. Somebody can give you all of the tools you need, but if you don't actually take those tools and apply them, then you just don't have anything.

Q. Did you try --
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: I feel I have mentored a lot of the younger guys. Kirby calls me when he has something going on. I'm always quick to help. We're a family. Of course I'm going to help my brother out, but my brother has to help himself out.

Q. (Inaudible question.).

Q. (Inaudible question.)
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: If it wasn't for Kirby -- I was there, honestly. I got in trouble too many times. You know, I was doing the same things over and over again. And he kind of sat me down like a father figure, and was just like, I don't need you, I want you. We got to get this right.

And I just sat down with him and we did. We did exactly that. That what was the first time I had somebody sit me down and tell me, I want you and I need you, we got to figure this out.

Q. (Inaudible question.)
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: I can't remember exactly when, but it was definitely out there with everything that was going on with me. He never told me how long I'll be suspended but he said, you're going to be suspended for a while. I still want you to be with the team. I was still going to the hotel. I was still doing the meetings. I was working twice as hard, working out three, four times a week. It was a period for me to enhance every single skill in my body and my mental status. And I really came back stronger from it because I put in so much work during that time.

Q. (Inaudible question.)
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: Honestly, I think they are pretty balanced, like you said. So, you have to kind of assess every threat equally to have a good running game. They could make good as a great player. I hope he does get to play. But also the number one, that other quarterback, he's also a great player as well. Passing game is great. So, you know, you just have to focus on the whole entire offense as a whole. You can't leave out anything -- anything left unknown. You have to prepare and just get the job done.

Q. What do you say --
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: I told you I love competition. I want to play. I want to play against him. He's a great player. He's a dynamic player. When you have that many players on the field, you make other players come out and play dynamic as well, so --

Q. My point is --
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: This is actually the first time I heard about it. We been studying everybody. We prepare in a way that it doesn't matter if we're going to play or not. We're still going to prepare for you, just because we tried to put one on us, you know what I mean?

Q. -- football culture, why is one better than the other?
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: I don't think one is better than the other. I think if you have a good football team, you have a good football team and whatever team comes up and shows up that day, you know, it's the team that's dominant. You know? That's how it goes. That's how it's been with football. It's not the team that's the best, it's the team that plays the best, so that's been on our mind this whole year, too. We have a lot of little mottos but that's one of the bigger runs.

Q. I was going to ask you -- but that was a different setting. That was on the road --
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: I feel that was a wake-up call for us, too. We kind of needed that. We needed something to wake us up and give us that spark back and just be hungry again.

Q. (Inaudible question.)

Q. Playing Baker --
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: His name is Seter, and honestly, he makes me mad in practice every day, because he's just a tremendous athlete. He's a tremendous athlete and he gives us the best look. He's been giving us a look all year when we had really mobile quarterbacks. His ability to pass the ball, move out of the pocket. He's really shifty. I think if anybody can prepare us for the game, it's him.

Honestly, yesterday, I recall one play, I contained on him. He beat me. He did a spin-out. And I thought they'd catch him, but he's so quick, man. He's so quick.

Q. Who is this?
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: John Seter. They switch off. Stetson, he's the one that normally plays all of time. They alternate but they both play quarterback. When we have scrambles and stuff, Stetson is going to be in there playing.

Q. (Inaudible question.)
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: I don't want to say I think he's a more mobile athlete. He's just a smaller guy. He's so shifty. He can weave in and out of the pocket. He's a tremendous athlete. You see him in practice, you see how elusive he is. How good he can scramble and get the ball out of his hand. Even when he's scrambling, still throwing the ball, just like Mayfield does. And scoring touchdowns.

Q. (Inaudible question.)
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: I contained on Stetson, and he spun out of the pocket. I was going for his shoulder and I had to focus on the quarterback. That's what we've been priding ourselves on, staying in our rushing lanes.

I don't know what he did. He took a pass and just spun out. I thought this kid's a great athlete. Because I'm a good athlete as well. He kind of did that on me. It's kind of good you can fix those mistakes before you get to the game and have a person that can give you a look as good as Stetson does.

Q. (Inaudible question.)
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: Stetson's a really quiet guy. He comes out there and does what he's supposed to do and does more than he's asked to. He's been doing that all year. You have to commend him. I have to say if I have to give an award, it has to be him. He's the look for every single quarterback that's mobile and elusive.

Q. (Inaudible question.)
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: They're still in black jerseys.

We might give them a little pop here and there. If they're down, try to go for a run. We'll give them a little tag. He's a tough guy. He doesn't mind at all.

Q. Have you ever missed a game because of illness?
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: I played in the game, I did have a fever. But I still played. I just put on the thermal and tried to sweat it out in pregame. I was in the hotel coughing and throwing up, but I still came out and played. If I'm not broken, something's not broken, I'm going to play. Until they tell me I can't play I'm going to play.

Q. (Inaudible question.)
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: It is kind of funny to have the younger guys ask you questions and ask you things. But, it's also kind of cool. If you go through something, there's no point having an experience if you can't share it with somebody else. I just use it as an opportunity to just give something that I've learned to one of the younger guys to somebody else. It's just a really cool experience.

They've learned from it and it's different hearing from somebody that's so much older than you, a coach and parent versus hearing from one of your peers, I've been through a lot. You know what I mean?

Q. (Inaudible question.)

Q. (Inaudible question.)
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: That's one of my good friends I have, but I'm not really going to comment on that. That's his own story still being written. Him and his family and our coaches, they're doing everything they can about that.

Q. (Inaudible question.)
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: That is actually funny. Freshman years, our old D-line coach at UCLA, and every practice --

Q. Who is the D-line coach?
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: Tracy Rocker. He used to call me UCLA every day. It was kind of funny. He worked harder. It just motivated him. He's a tremendous player. His accolades speak for themselves. We tried to just free him up and make the tackles in the field, go sideline to sideline.

Q. Did you know him?
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: I did. I did. We went on a couple visits together. He's in Montezuma but he always runs around. He's always around the world.

Q. Montezuma is --
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: It's not. But LaQuan is a world traveler. If you ask him -- he's been everywhere. He'll give you geological facts about somewhere.

Q. (Inaudible question.)
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: I used to talk to him. That's one of the younger guys I tried to mentor. Like I said, I'm not going to comment on the story.

Q. (Inaudible question.)
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: I talked about it. I think a lot of guys shared same interest with me. When the time comes, we figure it out. I mean, honestly, I think I want to stay.

Q. (Inaudible question.)
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: Okay. I'm thinking about staying. I think it's best for me and my family. I hope other guys decide to stay as well. I feel like we have a chance to do it again and I believe everybody else does.

Q. (Inaudible question.)
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: Yeah, we're always about finishing the drill at Georgia. I think everybody wants to finish the drill.

Q. (Inaudible question.)
JONATHAN LEDBETTER: I'm extremely excited. He's a great D-line coach. Wherever he goes, he always has. He's a great man, a great mentor to me. Definitely one of my father figures. I appreciate him and wish him the best.

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