LOS ANGELES -- There's a noticeable absence.
It's not unexpected, but when looking at the linebackers in practice, you won't find No. 6 on the field. That's Natrez Patrick, who will not play in the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day for the Georgia Bulldogs since entering a drug program. He began treatment after getting arrested for a third time during his collegiate career.
Patrick was arrested with teammate Jayson Stanley hours after the SEC Championship for marijuana possession less than one ounce. While the charges were dropped, he failed a drug test for Athens-Clark County conducted as a result of his arrest. The failed test was a violation of his probation from his second arrest.
Patrick's lawyer announced he would be getting treatment, and under the new UGA substance abuse policy, the treatment doesn't count against Patrick as an offense under the policy. In the past, three arrests has led to players getting kicked off the team.
The defense is disappointed that Patrick is not in Los Angeles, obviously, but they have shared words of encouragement with their friend and teammate.
Ledbetter was one of the players who reach out. Ledbetter was arrested twice in the offseason prior to the 2016 season. His first arrest was for attempting to use a fake ID, and his second just a few months later was DUI and underage possession of alcohol.
Ledbetter served his suspensions, and at the time, admitted in a statement through the program that he had a "problem." Now, he's comeback and is a starter on the team's Rose Bowl roster. In addition, he's become a leader.
"I just try to be where I can be where my feet are for this team and be the guy who can help out whoever comes to me," Ledbetter told 11Alive. "Or if my coaches come ask me for something, I'm there to give to them because I'm a part of this team just like everybody else is. And if i'm not putting out 100 percent in then I'm kind of cheating myself. I just give everything to this team. I give everything that I can. Whatever they need of me, whatever they ask of me, I'm here to give it to them."
He said everyone on the team has reached out to Patrick to offer support because the team-- and especially the defense-- is tight-knit. It means they're all friends, but they're not afraid to tell each other when they're disappointed or need to get something off their chest.
"We're all a family, we all support him and everything," he said. "I'm not going to speak too much on his story because that's his story, and I know he'd want to be here to speak it himself. But, that's my brother. I love him, and if you ask anybody on this team they'll say the same thing."
Defensive back J.R. Reed said that comradery is what has helped the team get to where it is, a national semifinal, which is impressive with head coach Kirby Smart only in his second season.
"I think that's why we're the defense that we are, playing at such a level because we've got everyone's back. Being a brother and being a brotherhood, you can push your brother to a limit that he won't get up and get mad at you. You're just pushing them all out of love," Reed said.
If and when Patrick returns next season, he'll have his support system to lean on. Ledbetter will be there. He said on Friday he will likely return for his senior season. Reed will be there with Smart and others.
They'll challenge him like they do everyone:
"When you're a tight team, you can check anybody. No one's too good to be checked on the team. And that's what keeps us going, keep striving," Reed said. "If our best guy's having a bad day, anybody can check him, because we all we've all been here for one goal, and that's to win."