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This is going to sound strange. It might even cause some casual followers of the Georgia recruiting scene to wonder why they follow these future players so closely.
The reality is Georgia’s most loyal and top-rated commitment is taking what has been termed an official visit to Ohio State this weekend.
That’s fan favorite 5-star Richard LeCounte III. That would be Georgia’s highest-rated commitment and the guy who has been making more sales calls for Kirby Smart than any other four hard-working recruits put together.
Let’s go live into the mind of a die-hard Georgia fan:
“oh my gosh. … that’s our best commit. …Nooooo! that urban meyer can really recruit. they already have the nation’s No.2 recruiting class. What if they take lecounte? if leCounte flips, what does this mean to the dow jones in what seems to be a surging economy? …. what if lecounte goes and brings all the top Georgia boys with him? What time is it? Is it too early to start drinking? Who else would leave if lecounte does? Do I even care about those expensive Lego sets I was going to get for my kids today? And why does this Intel fella describe what we’re thinking here in lower case and all italics? Does he really think all this anxiety does not deserve capital letters?”
There’s nothing to see here. Move along. DawgNation should worry more about Best Buy and Target running out of shopping bags today than about LeCounte running off on Georgia.
- This is the guy who tweeted out a Top 5 which read like this: 1. UGA 2. UGA 3. UGA 4. UGA 5. UGA.
- This is the same guy who skipped his state basketball championship ring ceremony so he could be at the UGA-Auburn game and make sure that his good buddy (and FSU commit) Stanford Samuels III had a good time in Athens to prep him for next month’s official visit.
- This is the guy who helped his Liberty County team reach the state quarterfinals for the first time in school history last Friday night and then woke up at 4 a.m. so he’d be in Athens to catch Georgia take on Lousiana-Lafayette. That’s the Ragin’ Cajuns. That’s a team so remote the sportswriter police and online grammar guardians don’t even throw a flag on you if you don’t spell that team name right.
- This is the guy who has done more to help Georgia over the last 11.5 months than you will probably ever know.
LeCounte took his senior pictures at a wonderful little spot in his very small hometown of Riceboro at a place called “Bulldawg Beach” of all places. He even tweeted out this picture of his folks yesterday that shows just how deep those Georgia roots go.
— Richard LeCounte III (@LilEasy_35) November 24, 2016
LeCounte will fly to Columbus on Saturday morning and then be back in Riceboro and be waiting on his first in-home visit from the Georgia coaches.
I’m even going to calmly state a case here that shows this visit actually makes LeCounte still seem very loyal to those close to him.
Huh? Yep. That’s right.
An act of loyalty
This visit is about loyalty. It is about paying respect to first and foremost his life-long friend Raekwon McMillan. McMillan is a team leader for the Buckeyes. Those two are constant Facetime friends. They pray together and play Madden 17 football online together.
LeCounte seemingly wins a lot of those games.
The Ohio State stalwart was a senior when LeCounte was a freshman at Liberty County. The brief backstory there is Georgia didn’t have a clue how to recruit underclassmen in the modern age back then.
That’s part of the reason why Meyer came down to Georgia and snuck away with a talent who played in every game for a national championship team as a freshman. He started every game last year and was named a second-team All-American in 2015.
McMillan leads Ohio State in tackles this year and is likely going to bolt for the NFL after this season. The clash with Michigan on Saturday is expected to be his final home game in Columbus.
LeCounte is going there to see his boy. The family even debated for a time whether or not he would just take an unofficial visit because of appearances.
So this trip is about seeing McMillan and his last game in scarlet and gray. It is also a way to show respect to the coaches at Ohio State. They offered LeCounte shortly after they saw his dazzling debut (two interceptions) as a freshman at Liberty County.
Meyer — no matter what you think about him — is a master salesman. The Buckeyes have the nation’s No. 2 recruiting class right now with commitments from a quintet of 5-star prospects. Look for the Buckeyes to add up to two more of those elite prospects this year.
Want to know how the big boys recruit? According to Landof10’s Jeremy Birmingham, the Buckeyes will host an absurd number of 5-stars this weekend. The current tally is 16.
There’s also a measure of appreciation that’s owed to Meyer here. The Buckeyes are hosting him on an official even though they realize they have no chance. This trip is largely so he can come see McMillan.
The Buckeyes did want him. Meyer went after him hard and he’d likely be one of the Top 3-4 recruits on the Ohio State board right now by anyone’s evaluation if they got him.
But the Buckeyes just were not going to get a Georgia boy who has a countdown clock on his phone of when he will graduate and be on his way to Athens. That timer even has a picture of Champ Bailey on it.
Ohio State was one of LeCounte’s first offers. They did a great job recruiting him. This trip is also a way for him to show respect for all those efforts, too.
LeCounte has had a splendid career and a fantastic senior season. He was recently chosen by USA Today as one of the five finalists for the ALL-USA Defensive Player of the Year honor.
Ohio State is already chasing Georgia’s top juniors
Meyer does have his recruiting act down. His go-to move is to work one year ahead.
His 2017 class — as the parent of a key recruit has told me — is already baked. That allows Meyer to work ahead on the Class of 2018. That’s something that maybe only the team in Tuscaloosa has the luxury to do right now.
The Buckeyes are heavy into the mix with 4-star DB Christian Tutt. Meyer speaks to him almost every day. They are also chasing 5-star OG Jamaree Salyer. Ohio State has already earned the commitment of the No. 2 QB in the state for 2018. That was 4-star Heard County QB Emory Jones.
The progress the Buckeyes have made with the Class of 2017 consequently allows Meyer to already reach out and connect with top Georgia targets like 5-star Lassiter junior DB Derrik Allen and Tutt almost every day.
I personally think that Ohio State is the already the team to beat for Allen. Some might say that it is still early, but every indication I’ve gotten from that family is his decision will very likely be made before the summer heading into his senior year.
Georgia hosted Allen at practice this week.
— JAX II (@chris_jack24) November 22, 2016
Allen enjoyed the trip. He continues to appreciate the way that Kirby Smart and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker go about coaching their guys. It is a teaching element above all else. That’s the type of coaching that he connects with the best.
“What I have heard from Kirby and his staff is he’s a priority for them,” his father Derrik T. Allen said. “I know things are going to ratchet up between Georgia and Derrik based on some of the things they told him on (that visit) and we are going to see a lot more direct involvement from Mel and from Kirby in his recruitment. I’ll say that based on their words that he is a priority 2018 recruit. They really want to get my wife on campus so she can get a good look.”
His sister was recently accepted into Georgia. She’s a member of the Class of 2017, but that’s really not that big of a factor. She scored a 30 on her ACT. She’s been accepted at schools all over the country. Just name the school. She aspires to go into sports medicine and could be a doctor one day.
Georgia’s pitch to use Allen is similar to what the family is hearing from Ohio State.
“They both see him as a versatile defensive back that can move around in the defensive backfield,” his father said. “Neither school is recruiting him exclusively at cornerback or at safety. They both see him as a versatile defensive back. Kirby (Smart) has made no bones about it that he wants to get bigger at most positions on the team and the defensive backfield is certainly one of those. He wants bigger and longer athletes.”
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Follow Jeff Sentell on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play Between the Hedges. Unless otherwise indicated, player rankings and ratings are from the 247Sports Composite.