Young TEs: Starting Anew; Starting Over

ATHENS - One was a coveted high school recruit with offers from virtually every football power in the South, the other a Division II basketball player interested in trying a different game.

These days, Jeb Blazevich and Joe Ledbetter aren’t all that different — both fighting through their first fall camp as Georgia football players.

The expectations are high for Blazevich, the 6-foot-5, 235-pound Charlotte, N.C., native who turned down Alabama and Auburn to sign with the Bulldogs in February. With potential for early playing time in mind, he admits he’s guilty of overthinking during specific drills.

“I don’t even know how to describe it,” he said. “It’s just different assignments called for different things in terms of adjustments. I’ll think one or two steps past my adjustments and I just need to do my adjustment.”

Meanwhile, Ledbetter, a transfer after spending two seasons at Pfeiffer College in North Carolina, is glad to be on the field after dropping football as a sophomore in high school to focus on basketball.

“It’s kind of like starting over, so I know it’s going to take a lot of work,” Ledbetter, who attended Tucker High in DeKalb, said. “Camp is tough. I’m just going to stick with it, try to get better every day.”

Both players are important because the Georgia tight end position is missing last year’s star — All-SEC selection Arthur Lynch, currently with the Miami Dolphins — and is at times short on depth due to injuries.

Junior Jay Rome (offseason foot surgery) and redshirt freshman Jordan Davis (undisclosed) have missed time in fall camp. Quayvon Hicks, who moved to the position from fullback in the offseason, has split time between the two spots after fullback Merritt Hall (concussion) was medically disqualified earlier this week.

Given the circumstances, the two newcomers haven’t exactly been able to watch and learn. Blazevich expects to contribute this season.

“We’re all just trying to do the best we can to get ready,” Blazevich said. “Every guy needs to be ready in that segment. At the end of the day, there’s nothing else we can do. We’re all training really hard.”

Ledbetter says taking reps behind Blazevich has proven useful.

“Jeb, he’s an amazing freshman, very talented,” Ledbetter said. “I learn a lot from him, as far technique and his skill work. I watch him a lot, him and Jay Rome.”

In turn, if the roles were reversed, Blazevich says he isn’t sure he’d be as far along as Ledbetter at this point.

“I saw him out there, and I was actually really impressed the first time,” Blazevich said. “I remember my sophomore year (of high school), if I quit playing I would not look as good as he is. I think he’ll definitely come along. I think he’ll be an asset for us.”

Said Ledbetter: “I’m still kind of lost, now I’m getting the hang of it slowly. But transitioning from basketball is very difficult. It’s just something you’ve got to practice and work on every day. I’ve got to stay in my playbook every day and try to do things to get better. The other guys have been here all summer, some of the freshmen been here all summer, but some of the other guys have been here years before me.”

When healthy, Rome, Davis and Hicks are expected to lead the unit this season. But after a fall camp that’s shed light on what injuries can do to the depth chart, Blazevich and Ledbetter both expressed an understanding of the importance of their respective roles.

“Oh yeah, there’s still the freshman mistakes, still the freshman grind where it’s like, ‘I can’t believe I just did that. We just went over that,’ ” Blazevich said. “In the same sense, there are times when (in a good way) I say, ‘I can’t believe I just did that.’ I think that’s a testament to the group. I really had to grow up quick, all the seniors and all the guys in the room are making sure I’m doing a good job of that."

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