Prior to the start of his junior season, most colleges didn't even know who Tucker (Ga.) defensive end Jonathan Ledbetter was. That's because the 6-foot-4, 254-pounder had spent the previous two years of his high school career playing at a small private school off the recruiting radar.
But just a few short months later, after dominating during his junior season and turning in a standout performance at the Under Armour Underclassmen Combine, the Rivals250 prospect reeled in double-digit offers and capped off his meteoric rise by committing to Alabama over the weekend.
"I was going to wait, but when I went over there, it just feel like home," Ledbetter said of his weekend visit to Tuscaloosa. "I just felt like I needed to do what I had to do. I love it, the campus, the coaches, everything."
Ledbetter visited several times during the fall with teammate Elisha Shaw and he said that level of comfort led to him pulling the quick trigger.
"I've already been to a whole bunch of games, so I know what it's like," he said. "I've met the players and every time I went it just felt like home. I told (coach Nick) Saban last night when were eating and he was thrilled."
Ledbetter fielded several offers from big-time programs since the dead period ended, but it wasn't until this past week that Alabama really turned up the heat.
"I had visited before and they sort of knew me, but when other schools starting coming in, then they came and offered too," he said. "Coach Saban said he looked at my film on Tuesday and he knew that's when they wanted me."
Defensive coordinator Kirby Smart and Ledbetter hit it off well over the weekend, making Ledbetter's decision even easier.
"That's my boy now," Ledbetter said of Smart. "We got really close. We had talked on the phone before, but we spent a lot of time together this weekend. He said he loves the way I play and he's just a really good guy in general. He's down to earth and enthusiastic about what they're trying to do. He gave me a real in-depth tour and showed me everything they had to offer."
Ledbetter projects into Alabama's system as a defensive end, but he said he could also slot into the "jack" linebacker position depending on his development. New Tide defensive line coach Bo Davis told Ledbetter he's eager to work with him.
"He was telling me they need me," Ledbetter said. "He's just a real good guy and I feel like I can get close to him. One of the strength coaches, he got coached by him, and was telling us he's a good guy and he's fun to play for."
Ledbetter also said his mother is on board with his decision to commit early, although she wants to get a closer look at campus.
"My mom supports me and my decision," Ledbetter said. "She's glad it's not too far from home. She's on board and she wants to come visit campus with me."
Going forward Ledbetter said he still expects to take visits, especially since everything happened so quickly, but he added he doesn't expect it to change his mind.
"I'm still going to check out all the schools and everything and just see what they're like," he said. "I don't want to not go. I'm still going to look around and go with my teammates and help them get noticed, too."
Looking back over the last few months, Ledbetter said he can't believe everything happened so fast, but he's glad it did.
"It's been kind of crazy, just going through the whole process so quickly," he said. "It's a lot to go through as a player, not knowing what to expect. But it's been a lot of fun. I'm glad I got the opportunity to experience it and I'm happy to be an Alabama commit."
Woody Wommack is a Southeast Region football recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. You can click here to follow him on Twitter.
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