Georgia tight end follows in family’s football tradition

The Letton family may as well be a football factory.

Established in the small town of Paris, Ky., just north of Lexington, Bill and Lori Letton have already raised two college football players before moving to Cobb County.

And the youngest, Sam Letton, a 3-star tight end, is looking to follow in those same footsteps.

At 6-foot-3 and 235 pounds, the Walton High School product is stockpiling scholarship offers — 18 and counting. He’s described by his coaches as deceptively fast, a play-maker, possibly the best in all of Georgia.

And one of those coaches turns out to be his father.

“He’s not really an old school tight end who puts his hand in the ground and is always attached,” said Bill Letton, who is the offensive coordinator at Walton. “Most programs that are interested in him want to utilize him in a variety roles.”

Sam’s father would know. He’s coached him since his freshman year. Before arriving to Walton, Bill Letton was the head coach at Lexington Catholic back in Kentucky. There, he coached his oldest sons Will and Nate. Will went on to play at Kentucky, and Nate attended Centre College.

Under his father’s guidance, Sam is prepared to share that same success.

At Walton, Letton flashes a level of versatility that isn’t common among tight ends his size. His father splits him out wide, where he runs verticals and wins, or he shifts him into the slot to match up against linebackers.

“If you ask anyone or any player in high school, they’d tell you I’m not an actual tight end,” Sam says. “At the college level, they’d say, ‘He’s an H-back,’ or, ‘He’s a hybrid tight end.’ The way I play, I was always kind of bigger, but that’s been an advantage.”

There is no better example of his versatility than when Sam was a freshman at Lexington Catholic. The team was playing Ensworth High School (Tenn.) on ESPN.

It was his coming out party.

“They had two SEC corners, and we put him on the outside,” Bill recalls. “It may have been fourth down, and we had to throw to the end zone. We threw a vertical and he beat one of the SEC kids and made a spectacular catch on national television. At that point, you knew he could make some plays.”

Now the No. 64 tight end in the country, Letton is inching closer to a decision. Though he doesn’t have any leaders, he told the AJC that he’s taken an interest in Wake Forest, West Virginia, Cincinnati, Western Kentucky and South Florida.

Of those five, West Virginia and Wake Forest appear to be good fits for his playing style.

“Wake Forest had the No. 3 leading tight end in the nation last year,” Letton said. “That stood out a lot. And West Virginia’s offense is built around the tight end. They fit my style of play, both of them. You’re going to have to put your hand in the ground but not on every single play. You’re going to be in the slot, the backfield and on the outside. It fits what I do.”

Where does Kentucky, a school many believe to be his frontrunner, fit in all of this? Despite having an offer, Letton appears to be looking elsewhere, at least for now.

“When I moved to Georgia, I was like, ‘Wow, there are so many opportunities,’” Letton said. “You don’t want to get stuck in a place where you’ve always been.”

Letton tells the AJC that he’d like to announce his commitment a few games into the season.

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