MANHASSETT, N.Y. - For the second year in a row, senior tight end Branden Ledbetter finds his name on the John Mackey Award Watch List. The award, which was released by the Nassau County Sports Commission, is bestowed annually upon the nation's best tight end. Ledbetter has been named John Mackey National Tight End of the Week twice in his career as well.
Ledbetter, who is coming off back-to-back All-Mid-American Conference seasons, is heading into his senior campaign looking to cement his name in the Western Michigan football record book. The Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native eclipsed one record in 2007, surpassing current tight ends coach Jake Moreland for career touchdowns by a tight end. He now has his sights set on his mentor for the career receptions and yards by a tight end records. He currently ranks fourth in both categories behind Moreland, Tony Scheffler and Mobolaji Afariogun.
The Preseason John Mackey Award Watch List is comprised of 30 of the nation's top tight ends. Seventeen of the 30 listees, including Ledbetter, are seniors and all but eight hail from schools in BCS conferences. Ledbetter is one of two student-athletes from the MAC to be named to the list.
NFL Hall of Fame member John Mackey is considered to be the best to have played the tight end position. A tight end by whom all others are measured, Mackey was a role model on and off the field as demonstrated by his Super Bowl Championship, his commitment to community and his place in history as the first President of the NFLPA.
The John Mackey Award presented since 2000, lists seven NFL players as alumni: Dallas Clark (’01) of the 2007 Super Bowl Champion Indianapolis Colts, two-time Super Bowl Champion Daniel Graham (’02) of the Denver Broncos, Kellen Winslow II (’03) of the Cleveland Browns, Heath Miller (’04) of the 2006 Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers, Marcedes Lewis (’05) of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Matt Spaeth (’06) of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the 2007 John Mackey Award recipient Fred Davis of the Washington Redskins.
Ledbetter and the rest of the Western Michigan football team open camp with player check in on Sunday, Aug. 3. Practice begins on Aug. 4 with two-a-days beginning on Saturday, Aug. 9. The Broncos open the 2008 season at Nebraska on Aug. 30. The game, which kicks off at 7 p.m. (ET) can be seen on FSN pay-per-view but Bronco fans can hear all the action on the Bronco Radio Network (Flagship - WZUU 92.3 FM) with Robin Hook and Monty Porter.