Richard LeCounte III is already a go-to guy for UGA’s 2017 recruiting class.
He holds the distinction as being the first prospect to commit to Kirby Smart after he returned to his alma mater in December. The five-star athlete has an unflinching desire to not only play for UGA, but also recruit as often — and maybe just as effectively — as any coach on the staff.
He’s invested in UGA in every sense of that term. JaCoby Stevens, another five-star from Tennessee, said UGA should go ahead and give LeCounte a red polo shirt with a “G” on it during visit weekends. LeCounte makes a point to be on campus for recruiting weekends when he can serve as a UGA ambassador the way Wal-Mart used to station seniors at the doorway.
“We talk about it whenever I go up there (to Athens) and watch film with the coaches,” LeCounte said. “We look at this player or that player and we all come up with a ‘Oh, he’s good’ and ‘we need to go ahead and work on that’ with a certain player.”
That’s when LeCounte gets the “sic’ em” stamp of approval.
“I’ll say, ‘Coach, I got you. I’m here to make your job easier’ and that’s something I can handle and help with,” LeCounte said. “I’ve been blessed with the ability to talk. I can do that and I love communicating to other people and relating. That’s what I can help out with just being blessed at being a social person.”
LeCounte’s current “we have got to get” list breaks down like this (presented in alphabetical order):
— 4-star WR Trey Blount, Pace Academy (Atlanta, Ga.)
LeCounte was very impressed by how Blount performed at the Opening qualifier in Orlando. His all-around game stood out among a field of talented Florida wideouts. When LeCounte heard that Blount didn’t feel like he was a priority to UGA, he quickly made a mental note.
— 5-star CB DeAngelo Gibbs, Grayson HS (Loganville, Ga.)
Gibbs is rated as the nation’s No. 1 cornerback and No. 1 overall player in Georgia. He’s already very tight with ‘17 UGA commit Breon Dixon. Dixon and LeCounte have both been working on him for awhile. Gibbs has been a frequent visitor to UGA.
— 4-star DE/OLB Malik Herring, Mary Persons HS (Forsyth, Ga.)
Herring fits in very well in the scheme at UGA and is very tight with a core group of elite rising senior prospects in Georgia. Herring is smart, savvy and skilled and is the total package for an edge defender in the SEC.
— 4-star WR James Robinson (Lakeland, Fla.)
LeCounte considers him to be one of the elite receivers in the country. He sought the nation’s No. 38 overall prospect out for his one-on-one battles at the Opening qualifier in Orlando. “Such a big and athletic wide receiver,” Robinson said.
— 4-star CB Stanford Samuels III, Flanagan HS (Hollywood, Fla. )
The 6-foot-2, 175-pounder is rated as the nation’s No. 38 overall prospect and the No. 4 overall prospect. “I love him,” LeCounte said. “He’s a real good dude.”
— 5-star ATH JaCoby Stevens, Oakland HS (Murfeesboro, Tenn.)
“That’s my boy right there,” LeCounte said. “We got to get my man from Tennessee. He’s the No. 1 athlete in the nation.”
— 4-star ATH Jamyest Williams, Archer HS (Lawrenceville, Ga.)
Williams is another talented and tenacious cornerback. The Athens native is rated as the No. 51 overall player for 2017.
LeCounte really has his eye on Robinson. A lot of the guys on his list are already very familiar with UGA, but he aims to make sure the nation’s No. 8 receiver recruit gets on campus.
“We talk about Georgia all the time,” LeCounte said. “He told me that he really wanted to visit and I told him that whenever he wanted to visit to just call me and then you know where I will be. I will be on my way to Athens. Oh yeah.”
The hardest-working player-recruiter in the business is an inspirational player. He wears his No. 4 jersey in tribute to his late grandmother. It is a special number to him, but he knows that five-star athlete Mecole Hardman, Jr. has already claimed that number at UGA. Hardman will get first dibs as he will join the team this summer.
“I really love that No. 4 because of everything I have going on with what it means to me,” he said. “But it is something I can overcome. Obstacles come up ahead for all of us and it’s really not a good thing to have for Georgia to have two guys that want to play there and wear that number four there. I will really wear No. 99 out there if that means I am playing for Georgia.”
The Liberty County standout was even dubbed “Baby Champ” by Smart in tribute to former UGA All-American and NFL great Champ Bailey on a recruiting visit earlier this year. Bailey also didn’t wear that No. 4 at UGA when he first arrived, too. Bailey wore No. 42 during his first season.
Unless otherwise indicated, player rankings and ratings are from the 247Sports Composite.
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.