Update: Nine players represent DeKalb in college national championship game

Jonathan Ledbetter

Davin Bellamy

Justin Shaffer (L), Netori Johnson (R)

Kendall Baker

Dominick Sanders

Several members of the University of Georgia (UGA) football team had family and fans from DeKalb County pulling for them in the College Football Playoff National Championship game against Alabama Jan. 8.

Not just because the Bulldogs are the home state team, but because nine players from DeKalb are on the Georgia roster and a few started or saw playing time in Georgia’s 26-23 loss at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Those who follow Tucker High School football saw former Tigers Dominick Sanders (Class of 2014) and Jonathan Ledbetter (Class of 2015) on the field for UGA.

Sanders, a senior strong safety, had three tackles in the game. He has 53 career starts for the Bulldogs, which is a school record for most in history for non-kickers. Prior to the championship game, Sanders led the team in interceptions with four and ties the school record for interceptions (16). His last interception came in the Rose Bowl, when he intercepted Oklahoma quarter Baker Mayfield’s pass and returned it 39 yards to set up a touchdown that gave Georgia a 38-31 lead in the fourth quarter.

Sanders was a senior at Tucker when the Tigers played for the Class AAAAA state title game in 2013 at the Georgia Dome. During media day Jan. 6, Sanders told Fox 5 reporter Cody Chaffins that it feels good to play his final game for UGA in Atlanta.

“[There] are a lot of fans—the fanbase is wonderful,” Sanders said. “There is a lot of support for both teams. It’s going to be a tough [game]; it’s going to be a good one.”

After legal troubles almost derailed his career at Georgia, Ledbetter has become one of Georgia’s top defensive players this season. He had three tackles in the game, including one tackle for a loss and half a sack. Prior to the game, the defensive end had 35 total tackles this season, including 4.5 tackles for a loss, two sacks and eight quarterback pressures.

Tucker football coach Bryan Lamar said it’s a great feeling to see his former players play on a national stage.

“Any time you coach guys you play a part in their success and them getting to where they have gotten to,” he said. “It’s a blessing to know that God has given us an opportunity to coach great players. It kind of goes both ways. I think those players have an impact on our lives and we have an impact on their lives, so it’s always awesome to see have opportunities for great success.”

The Chamblee community also had a star defensive player representing the Chamblee Bulldogs. UGA senior outside linebacker Davin Bellamy had three tackles and 1.5 sacks in the championship game. He started 13 out of 14 games for the Georgia Bulldogs prior to the game. He had 31 total tackles on the season, including six tackles for a loss and 3.5 sacks.

During the 2013 National Signing Day, the once Florida State commit signed with Georgia over Tennessee in the Chamblee Charter High School library. Bellamy told The Champion that one of the reasons he signed with Georgia was to be close to his mother.

“Me and my mom have been close for 18 years,” he said. “I didn’t want to go too far away from her. Just in case something happens I’m only 45 minutes away.”

Former Marist offensive lineman Kendall Baker, class of 2014, is the starting left guard for the Georgia Bulldogs. The junior is part of the offensive line that has helped Georgia running backs rush for an average 267.36 yards per game. He is one of two offensive winners of the “Up Front” award at the team’s post-season awards gala.

Another Marist War Eagle, freshman punter Bill Rubright, was on the sideline for Georgia. He was the No. 6-ranked punter on 247Sports.com his senior year at Marist.

Cedar Grove had two representatives on the Georgia sideline. Freshman offensive linemen Netori Johnson and Justin Shaffer returned to Atlanta a year after leading the Cedar Grove Saints to their first state championship victory in 2016 in the Georgia Dome. Shaffer has appeared in eight games for Georgia.

Redshirt freshman offensive lineman Daniel Gothard of Dunwoody was also on the sideline for Georgia, as well as senior outside linebacker Daniel Harper, who played at Lakeside.

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