Richard LeCounte III-Georgia football-UGA football
It seems like Richard LeCounte III has always been in the middle of great things for Georgia.

Homegrown: Richard LeCounte III is a unique placesetter for the Kirby Smart era

EDITOR’S NOTE: This original Richard LeCounte III story continues a special series in partnership with Georgia Farm Bureau profiling homegrown talent from the state of Georgia.  To access the other HomeGrown Talent articles please visit the series hub on DawgNation.com. 

The year was 2015. It was a summer night in July. The Mark Richt era was on its last season in Athens.

There was this rising 2017 prospect who kept bounding up and down. He wasn’t the biggest cat, but boy could he move. He was so springy.

That young man’s name was Richard LeCounte III. He was a “Down South Georgia Boy” prospect if there ever has ever been one. But back then, those guys didn’t go play football at the University of Georgia.

Richard LeCounte III was only beginning to figure out how good of a football player he could be way back in July of 2015. (Rob Saye/Special to DawgNation)

LeCounte had the hops and the explosive acceleration. He was often found near rising senior Mecole Hardman, Jr. at that camp. Hardman went on to basically shine as brightly as anyone at that camp that night at both the receiver and cornerback spots.

Those two represented potential glory for Georgia. If the Bulldogs could only start signing guys like those two.

Georgia did. Hardman put in his three years and is already making millions and weekly highlight reels in the NFL for the Kansas City Chiefs.

LeCounte is still in Athens, but he’s currently in a stretch that can be called the best football of his time at Georgia. The program would be lucky to keep him away from Hardman’s new league for one more year the way he’s playing.

The former 5-star safety tied for the team-best total in tackles (6) against Kentucky. He shadowed future NFL tight end, Kyle Pitts, down in Jacksonville with great success and also had six tackles on that night.

He picked off Missouri last Saturday in the red zone and returned that theft 71 yards. The former Liberty County star might have scored if he didn’t have to vault over a teammate on that return.

Those three games came after he managed just one tackle against South Carolina. That was saying something after LeCounte finished his sophomore season with 74 tackles. That led the Bulldogs in 2018.

It was an up-and-down year for LeCounte, though.

He’s made sure that the valley against Carolina didn’t become another “rat trap” trend.

“The difference between Richard now and then is he’s bought in a little more into the understanding of what I have to [do]within this system,” Kirby Smart said while describing LeCounte’s proper thought process on Monday. “What is my job? I have to make calls and decisions on my side of the field that is critical to our success. I’ve said after the [Missouri] game that I think in the last two or three weeks he’s taken a little more ownership in that.”

“He’s taken a little more initiative to watch [game] tape and not just think I can go out there and ball. I’ve got to go understand and play within the defense to make plays and he’s doing a better job of that.”

That’s the present for LeCounte. It is a pretty good one at that.

But it doesn’t change the fact he will always be a bookmark recruit of the Kirby Smart era at Georgia.

RELATED: Did you ever know the background story about Richard LeCounte III? He was driving a car at what age? 

Richard LeCounte III just might be in the best stretch of football in his Georgia career at this time. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

Richard LeCounte III: When he chose to be a Bulldog

There will be a time when Kirby Smart’s first teams come back to celebrate their success between the hedges in Athens. There is already going to be a definite one with that SEC championship team from 2017.