Some Georgia players arrive in the Classic City with very little fanfare; some arrive with a ton of buzz. Some guys seem to fade into memory very quickly once their playing days are over unless you keep a stash of game-day programs to remind yourself of those young men who left their mark (to varying degrees) and moved on. Richard LeCounte III - “Richie” - is one of those players whose skill, love of the game and infectious personality will always be remembered for a long, long time by anyone who bleeds red ‘n black. A great ambassador for the program, Richie was the first player to commit to Georgia when Kirby Smart was announced as the new head coach in December of 2015. Tuck that one away when you’re playing a game of Georgia Bulldog Trivial Pursuit in about 15 or 20 years. You’ll be glad you did. You might even win an official Dawg Sports Bundt Cake pan. Trust me, they’re groovy.
LeCounte arrived in Athens as a true freshman in 2017 out of Liberty County High as a high 4 or 5-Star recruit depending on the service. He played in 7 games as a true freshman. His contributions to Georgia’s fortunes over the next 2 1⁄2 seasons were immense over his 44 games-played career:
- Eight career interceptions.
- Eighteen passes defended.
- 6.5 tackles for loss.
- 176 total tackles/106 solo tackles.
- Four forced fumbles.
- Six fumble recoveries.
If life was fair, LeCounte should be one of the first safeties off-the-board early in the draft. However, last Halloween evening only a few hours removed after Georgia returned home from a hard fought win at Kentucky, Richie was involved in the now-infamous motorcycle wreck that ended his 2020 season. That’s just minutiae. It could have ended his life. His injuries were not life threatening, but not insignificant: a concussion, broken ribs, a foot and dinged up shoulder have taken months to heal.
At Georgia’s Pro-Day, LeCounte ran a 4.76 40-time leaving some analysts to wonder if he had completely healed. NFL Scout Daniel Jeremiah feels LeCounte will receive a 4th round grade and that his upside is still tremendous, despite the accident. A quick scan of some of the more reputable grading services have Richie falling later in the 5th to early 7th round. Whoever is wise enough to pick him will get a helluva player and the kind of solid teammate that NFL G.M.’s seek.
As one unnamed SEC coach stated recently:
I thought he was lights out the best safety in the conference — his range, versatility, just his ability to command it back there,” a head coach said. “Not only was he skilled but he knew what was coming. He was prepared. He’s a vocal, physical, contact player who can get the ball out of the air. Can match in coverage. He’s got NFL three-dimensional versatility where he can play on the roof, can match in coverage and can fit the box. And if you have a fourth category, he can blitz from anywhere on the field. I thought he was dynamic. Did he play with a great supporting cast? Yeah. But I thought he led that supporting cast. - from Matt Zenitz, AL.com
Here’s a nice breakdown from Mark Sanchez (yeah, the former NY Jets QB).
Former #Jets QB Mark Sanchez — @Mark_Sanchez — went through #UGA S Richard LeCounte (@LilEasy_35 ) tape and discussed his thoughts on him as a prospect— The 33rd Team (@The33rdTeamFB) March 25, 2021
Mark was able to give a unique perspective on the safety from a QB’s view @4th_and_forever pic.twitter.com/fjqk1DpHQD
LeCounte might not have the type of speed that only a few possess, but he’s got football speed. At 5’ 11” and about 195, he’s not the most physically imposing safety to ever lace up cleats, but he’s fearless. He’s very good in run support and is not afraid to hit someone. He’s also got a high football I.Q. which is to say he knows what he’s doing back there. LeCounte has always been a high-energy guy who doesn’t take plays off.
This is one draft pick that I’ll be keenly interested in following, from selection through the end of his career. I hope it’s a long and prosperous one...for a Damn Good Dawg.