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Richard LeCounte is one of the top defensive backs in the country.

Instincts and playmaking help land Richard LeCounte earn preseason All-American honors

The Associated Press released its preseason All-American teams on Tuesday. It honored a number of players who would not be playing this season, such as Oregon’s Penei Sewell and Ohio State’s Justin Fields.

But even when taking into consideration the entirety of college football, one Bulldog found his way onto the All-American team, as senior safety Richard LeCounte was named to the First Team.

LeCounte will be entering his third year as a starter in the Georgia secondary and leads what should be one of the top defenses in the country. He picked up 61 tackles last season while picking off four passes, two of which came in Georgia’s final game of the season against Baylor.

Georgia will have to replace one of its starting safeties in JR Reed, as he’s now off to the NFL. While expectations are high for Lewis Cine, LeCounte will go a long way in covering up for the absence of Reed.

“Richard’s a player that plays with instincts,” defensive coordinator Dan Lanning said. “That shows up in what he’s learned over the years, to play with those same instincts within the framework of our defense and our system.”

This will be LeCounte’s final season as a Bulldog, and he will be looking to go out on a high note. LeCounte had the chance to enter the 2020 NFL Draft, but elected to return to Georgia for his senior season.

And while some of the top players in the sport, such as fellow first-team All-American Micah Parsons of Penn State, LeCounte never once considered opting out of his senior season.

“I wanted to come back and play ball again for Georgia,” LeCounte said prior to the start of fall camp. “I didn’t think my time here was done and my mission wasn’t completed so I came back to be able to lead the team and go for a National Championship.”

LeCounte was the very first player to publicly commit to Kirby Smart after the latter took over as the head coach at Georgia. He was one of the leaders in putting together Georgia’s 2017 recruiting class and figures to take on that role for Georgia’s defense this season.

The Bulldogs do return eight defensive starters off last season’s team while also bringing back sophomores Nakobe Dean, Nolan Smith, Travon Walker and Cine. The Bulldogs are expected to have one of the top defenses in the country this season, in part because of having LeCounte leading the way.

That experience, especially in an abnormal offseason, should help give the Bulldogs an edge.

“Guys are more comfortable, playing faster. Guys are just out there flying around making plays,” LeCounte said.  “That’s something you have to be pleased with as an older player to know that everyone you’re playing with on defense knows the system good and are able to grasp the concepts and are able to play at a high level.”

No. 4 ranked Georgia will get its first chance to show off on Sept. 26, as it opens the season on the road against Arkansas.

Georgia football defensive back Richard LeCounte on 2020 season

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