Kirby Smart wasn’t able to be at the Rising Seniors check-in on Sunday morning. That’s okay, though. He didn’t need to be.
Richard LeCounte III was there and he — like everything else when it comes to football — had it covered. Smart’s first commitment showed up with a blazing smile and a UGA windbreaker.
The nation’s No. 1 athlete had two missions this week. The first was he was going to “come in and play football” because that’s what the 5-star recruit always does. The second? Well, he’s there to bring in all the blue chips for UGA. It sounds impossible, but LeCounte reeled off the names he’s going after this week.
DeAngelo Gibbs. Malik Herring. Jaden Hunter. William Poole III. Jamyest Williams. Those are his targets. He’s looking at four stars and up. Minimum.
It sounds impossible to fathom that all of those in-state guys from the Class of 2017 will eventually sign with UGA. That stuff just does not happen.
Gibbs is a 5-star rated as the nation’s No. 2 cornerback for 2017. Herring is a 4-star recruit rated as the nation’s No. 6 defensive end. Hunter, another 4-star, rates as the country’s No. 8 outside linebacker. Poole rates as the nation’s No. 11 cornerback. Williams is rated as the nation’s No. 5 athlete.
Every one of those guys is ranked among the nation’s Top 150 players for 2017. Is there any way he gets that done?
“Yes, there is a way,” LeCounte said. “We can get that done. If we don’t, then I’ve let somebody down. That’s possible. If we don’t get Malik and Jaden and Jaymest and DeAngelo and Willliam then I have failed as a recruiter.”
That fulfills the mission he told Smart he was signing up for when he committed on Dec. 13.
“I told him that I wanted to be the leader of this class you have that are coming in with in-state talent,” LeCounte III said. “You can’t keep letting the best players in the state leave our great state of Georgia.”
Smart told him that’s what he wanted to do. That’s obviously chest-beating talk, but he’s already lived it.
Recent UGA commitment Breon Dixon said on Sunday that LeCounte face-timed him and 5-star defensive back DeAngelo Gibbs for a week straight before he committed to UGA on Christmas Day. He said that Dixon will now help him try to get Gibbs to follow suit.
“That’s going to get done,” LeCounte said. “If there is any way that can get done, that will get done. We will both be able to back him into a corner to go ahead and come to UGA now”
He pointed out players at the hotel on Sunday. He saw Morgan County defensive lineman MJ Webb with some Auburn gear on.
“Yep, we need him,” LeCounte said. “We’ve got to get that shirt off and get him a new one of those. We have got to change that. We like that big man over there with that Georgia stuff on. That guy over there likes Clemson. We’ll have to fix that.”
The 6-foot, 186-pounder says he will look to play safety once he arrives at UGA. Although Smart told him he could play anywhere he wants to from receiver to from cornerback to receiver to safety to kick returner.
Jeff Sentell covers UGA football and UGA recruiting for AJC.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play Between the Hedges.