3 Lions sign to play college football

Jay Compton jcompton@civitasmedia.com

February 20, 2014

Thursday was a big day at Pineville High School as three senior Mountain Lions all signed to continue their football career at the next level. Conner Ford and Dalton Ledbetter both signed with Georgetown College and John Robbins signed with Union College.

During their time at Pineville those three all helped lead the Lions to one of the best four-year stretches in school history. Pineville has put together a 25-22 record that include three playoff victories over the last four seasons.

Ford has played at wide receiver, in the slot, at tailback and full back as well as serving as a Wildcat quarterback on offense for PHS. On defense he’s played at several positions in the secondary as well as spending some time at linebacker.

He said at Georgetown he’ll likely be used as a slot receiver or at free safety.

“Georgetown is a big Christian school. It used to be a Baptist school but now it’s gone non-denominational, either way it revolves around the Lord and that’s how my life has been,” Ford said about his college choice. “Right now they’re NAIA and will be making the jump to NCAA Division II. Hopefully I can make an impression and become a D-II athlete.”

Ford added that having the opportunity to play at the next level is a blessing.

“I owe everything to the Lord for making it 18 years and getting through four years of high school football with a family that has supported me the whole time,” Ford said. ‘More than anything it’s a blessing.

Pineville head coach Bart Elam on Ford:

“Conner Ford is a typical Georgetown signee — high-character, great work ethic, good athlete. He’s just all of the above. He’s a great kid and we’re going to miss him, just like all of our seniors. Georgetown is getting a great kid and Conner is getting a great school.”

Ford plans to become a physical therapist.

Georgetown is coming off a 7-4 season, their 17th under head coach Bill Cronin. The Tigers reached the NAIA playoffs for the fourth straight year.

Ledbetter had several offers and didn’t decide on Georgetown until Wednesday night.

“I felt really good about it when I went up there, but I was still a little hesitant on a decision because it is such a big step. I’m glad I decided to sign on there, I’ll have Conner with me, plus it’s a familiar place because we’ve gone to camp there every year,” he said. “It’s a nice campus and a very prestigious school and I’ll get to play football under a great coach. I’m just excited and thank God every day for giving me the ability to do this.”

Ledbetter stood out at outside linebacker and was also a weapon for the Mountain Lions at tight end.

“Hopefully I’ll be playing defense, that’s what I’ve been recruited for. I’ve had some places saying they want to try me a little bit at tight end or in the slot because of my height. We’ll just see how it works out,” he said.

Ledbetter plans to major in Accounting.

“Dalton Ledbetter is full of potential. He’s really long and he’s got pretty good speed. A lot of schools were after him early and often and he just made his decision last night,” Elam said. “Again, Georgetown is getting a really good kid. He’s improved every year since he’s been here and he really hasn’t even touched what he can do yet. I think when he gets to college and gets specialized coaching every day it’s untelling what Dalton can be. He’s already a great player, but I think at the next level he’s really going to shine.”

Robbins has been a stalwart on the Pineville offensive line over the past four years while also rotating in along the defensive front. He’s hoping to concentrate on the offensive side of the ball at Union.

“I’d rather play on the offensive line because that’s what I know and that’s what I’m good at,” he said.

Robbins is excited for the chance to play college football.

“It’s a small goal. I’ve always had the mind-set since I was a freshman to try to play and hopefully I would develop enough to have this opportunity some day. It turns out that it paid off and everything’s coming along, slowly but surely,” he said.

The Union College Bulldogs are coming off a 3-8 season competing the NAIA Mid-South Conference’s East Division. Head coach Tommy Reid recently resigned after a 13-year stint as the Bulldogs’ head coach and the search for his successor has begun.

“They’ve had some problems recently, but everything will work out I’m sure,” Robbins said. “They have pretty much everybody coming back and it will be a lot of fun to be a part of something new.”

Robbins hasn’t decided on a major yet, but is leaning toward something in the science field such as Biology.

“John Robbins is a player full of potential — big body, good feet. He doesn’t light up the newspaper clippings because he’s an offensive lineman, but he’s been a solid football player for us for four years and I’m really proud he’s got an opportunity to go and play at the next level,” Elam said.