Although only a sophomore, Georgia safety Richard LeCounte III seems to have been a fixture in Athens for several years.
The former five-star, Liberty County High product has been a fan-favorite of DawgNation since his early recruiting days. LeCounte was a frequent visitor to Athens and once he committed, was an active Bulldog recruiter and a social media favorite.
LeCounte holds the distinction as being the first recruit to commit to Kirby Smart at Georgia. He arrived at UGA as the nation’s No. 1-rated safety and 12th rated overall prospect in the country. Playing behind seniors Dominick Sanders and Aaron Davis last season, he still saw significant playing time as a freshman, seeing action in 10 games.
Coach Smart is obviously quite fond of LeCounte but will also show that tough love when necessary. During Fan Day, Coach Smart gave LeCounte an earful after missing an assignment during the scrimmage.
After yesterday’s practice, responding during the media session to defensive coordinator Mel Tucker’s analysis that LeCounte’s “arrow is pointing upward,” he chimed in with the following:
“Which time? His arrow’s up, then his arrow’s down, then his arrow’s up, then it’s down. He makes some of the greatest plays I’ve ever seen and then he makes some of the most bone-headed plays. So there’s not a level of consistency there. Y’all are going to take that and write all these bad stories about Richard and say I said something bad about Richard, I love Richard. Richard is one of my favorite players to coach. Y’all will say, ‘Man, coach Smart is just attacking Richard.’ That’s not the case. Richard loves to practice. He loves football as much as anybody out there, but he has to do things consistently in order to be successful. And right now he’s not doing things consistently,” said Smart.
LeCounte, along with junior defensive lineman Michael Barnett, was made available to the media after practice. He takes the criticism in stride and sees that Coach Smart wants him to stay within the system and fulfill his immense potential.
“I see it as a process,” LeCounte said. “Everything starts as a foundation. Everything starts from the bottom, up. Making sure I do what I need to do, and Coach Smart taking the time to make sure I don’t skip any of those steps in that process. To get to the top, you’ve got to go through the bottom. I still see myself as a work in progress, as I hope everybody else on the team does. There’s always somewhere we can get better.”
LeCounte has a chance to be one the next great Georgia defenders. He has the talent, the passion, energy, charisma and football IQ to be something special. Kirby Smart sees that as well and will continue to coach him hard.
The Bulldogs open the season on Saturday, September 1 at Sanford Stadium against Austin Peay. Kickoff is slated for 3:30 p.m. on ESPN.