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Faith and family at center of Cleveland safety Richard LeCounte’s NFL draft weekend

Programming note: Tonight at 7:30 p.m. special one-hour Mother’s Day Weekend special with Richard LeCounte’s mother, Erika, and JT Daniels’ mother, Ali, on DawgNation YouTube Channel and DawgNation Facebook Page!

ATHENS — Former Georgia football star Richard LeCounte lll is back to sounding like himself and feeling like himself.

If LeCounte is back to looking like himself on the football field at Cleveland’s rookie minicamp May 14-16 the Browns will have gotten an absolute steal with the 169th overall pick in the fifth round.

It has been well-documented that LeCounte’s NFL draft stock suffered as a result of a Halloween Night motorcycle accident in Athens that occurred hours after he played arguably the best game of his career with a 13-tackle effort at Kentucky.

The headline in the LeCounte household, however, is simply that “Little Richard” has got himself a job.

The LeCounte Family celebration started on Friday night with a low-country boil. Friends and family surrounded Richard in the Riceboro home where he grew up, some four hours from Athens between Savannah and Jacksonville near the coast.

Three older sisters and two older brothers — Richard is the youngest of six children — were on hand for support and good times.

When the former Georgia All-SEC safety slid from the Rounds 2-3 activity of Day Two to Day Three, the family rolled with it and the celebration continued with a family brunch in the LeCounte household on Saturday.

“I kept getting calls and texts, people asking what is happening with the safeties,” said Erika LeCounte, Richard’s mother. “I explained to them, that we aren’t worried. Richard is blessed, and we have faith.”

There were 10 safeties picked ahead of LeCounte in the draft — including five in the fifth round before LeCounte was selected 169th overall.

“After he was picked and hung up the phone, he was anointed by his grandmother, and we prayed for blessings and his future,” Erika LeCounte said.

Richard LeCounte did a teleconference later that day with the Cleveland media, patiently answering a barrage of questions from NFL media about his motorcycle accident.

“That’s part of his job,” Erika LeCounte said. “If he needs to answer questions, Richard will answer questions and he’s going to be honest because that’s who he is.”

Indeed, Richard LeCounte opened the press conference saying it has been a process to get back to full strength.

“It’s been an overwhelming process, from my accident in October to now, it’s been a long journey and the things that I’m able to bring to the table are unmatched,” LeCounte said. “I was able to recover 100 percent and I’m ready to get on a roll.”

LeCounte was honored with a plaque from Riceboro mayor Joe Harris at a town function.

Richard LeCounte was honored by the Georgia city of Riceboro after being selected in the 2021 NFL Draft with the 169th overall pick by the Cleveland Browns.
Erika LeCounte photo, Dawgnation

“Richard continues to bring great honor not only to our city and community but also our county and region,” Harris said. “He does it in such a way that makes us all feel proud to know him and be a part of our community.

“We wanted to honor him for being drafted, and as he received national recognition we want to make sure our local community realizes we celebrate him and appreciate him as well.”

Harris knows Richard LeCounte first hand, having mentored him at a math tutor while LeCounte was in high school.

“Richard was always great to be around and eager to learn,” Harris said. “One thing I was impressed with Little Richard, his father is Richard Junior — is he was self-driven.

“He would set goals and accomplish them. That’s what makes it satisfying to know he has the motivation to better himself and has the ability to accomplish the goals. I’m so excited to see him do that.”

Former Georgia star Nick Chubb will be waiting for LeCounte in Cleveland, just as he was ready to mentor him at Georgia.

It’s one more reason the LeCounte family feels blessed to be headed to the Browns and have faith in the future.