Sentell’s Intel: Which Georgia commits are living up to the hype?

UGA commits Richard LeCounte (left) and Toneil Carter (right) have had big senior seasons up to this point. Both play to enroll early in December.

Want a daily lap through Georgia football recruiting? That’s what the Intel will bring at least five days a week. We’ll cover the news and which way this 4-star or 5-star might lean and add a dab of perspective to help fans figure out what it all means. __________________________________________________________________

 

Recruiting is largely about potential and projections. That’s why an accomplished player might not have the offers his peers do despite an overwhelming advantage in stats.

The stellar prep career of Pierce County quarterback Stetson Bennett IV illustrates that point. Bennett (who will enhance the job security of the coaches who eventually sign him) has thrown for 2,409 yards in 8 games. The senior has completed 63 percent of his passes for 26 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. He gets the ball out quick, makes the right reads and delivers the ball so his guys can rip off big yards after the catch.

Bennett was a consistently strong performer at the Nike “The Opening” regionals across the South this year. I saw him compete at three different sites and know that he went to a few more. He was very good. It was like he brought the phrase “somebody will get a steal” along with his suitcase for every trip.

He logged more than 4,000 miles and always had the signature denim U.S. Postal Service cap at every event. It fit just like that lid did. The kid was that reliable.

Yet college coaches mostly ignore stats unless they are otherworldly. That’s where his 171-pound frame stands out more than his game. He’s right at the 6-foot mark and that limits the big-time offers. Recruiters look at the steam he puts on his passes, his touch but will also fret about his throwing lanes in a tight pocket with much taller linemen on both sides of the ball.

He’s rated as a 2-star prospect and the nation’s No. 101 pro-style passer. His offer sheet includes an Ivy League school (Columbia) plus Mercer, Georgia Southern and Middle Tennessee.  I feel Bennett will be a highly-productive college player in the right system, but he’s not going to get the SEC sniffs even if he had 4,000 yards right now and doubled his average of 19 completions per game.

That doesn’t prevent me from appreciating his game. I’ll let his mid-season highlights speak for themselves. Check out the second clip of his mid-year film. It is gold.

But his example serves as a perfect illustration. There are always a few Bennetts every season who produce far beyond the projection of the college coaches.

There are also players on SEC commitment lists who have more busts than big plays. They miss more blocks than they should or don’t command a double team every down.

The SEC commits are the guys who project to the big time with all the “eye test” checks imaginable. Yet they can’t dominate when placed on a high school field among those who won’t play a down of big-time college football. That’s a huge red flag.

The ideal situation is a marriage of potential and production. Fans should find the big-time gets on their school’s commitment board contending for a state player of the year honor. Especially at a program that recruits like Georgia.

There are several great examples for UGA in this year’s class. Perhaps the most encouraging sign for DawgNation would be that three of the most dominating seasons up to this point have been delivered by their January mid-year enrollees.

Richard LeCounte III > Advertised

LeCounte is Georgia’s highest-rated commitment and should be on the list. He leaves no doubt about it. Just take a look at his most recent game and try to remember the three tackles he makes along the highlight reel are made by the nation’s No. 1 safety.

That hasn’t kept the 5-foot-11, 180-pounder from looking like a linebacker against Long County. The plays LeCounte made look like something ripped from a movie set where he’s exacting vengeance on somebody who said something bad about his family.

Remember “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” from the 1980s? Well, LeCounte vs. Long County looks like an audition tape for the modern remake. Somebody must have bashed up his jeep prior to the big rivalry game.

LeCounte also has two touchdown catches in the above clip. He’s got a shot at making his fourth All-State team later this season.

Georgia’s only 5-star commitment has 23 catches for 436 yards and 9 touchdowns. That’s an average of 19 yards per catch. He’s also averaging 40 yards per kickoff return and 21 yards per punt return. He’s only been able to return 11 kicks this year but has scored on two kickoff returns and one of his punt returns.

But the obvious meal ticket for LeCounte on Saturday will be on defense. He’s recording an average of 7.5 tackles per game. The Liberty County (Hinesville, Ga.) star also has two interceptions and transformed one of those into a Pick-6 for his 13th touchdown this year.

He’s got 60 solo tackles (46 solo) plus 6 tackles for losses, 2 passes defended, 2 fumbles forced and a sack. His senior year highlights deliver on all those checkmarks and also include his signature style. It looks like he’s having way too much fun.

LeCounte has played in eight games for a 7-1 team so far and he’s produced almost six minutes worth of highlights. That’s exactly what the highest-rated commitment on Georgia’s board should be doing.

Jake Fromm is still chasing state records

The Stetson Bennett IV example also exemplifies why Jake Fromm is a country mile past just merely being legit on the field.

Fromm has put up better numbers than Bennett while also competing in Class AAAAAA ball. The nation’s No. 4 pro-style passer has glowing stats but also checks off everything recruiters want to see in the projections category, too.

The nearly 6-foot-3, 220-pounder has thrown for 3,206 yards in eight games. The average Fromm night has meant 24 completions for 400 yards and 4.4 touchdowns. He’s thrown 35 touchdowns and eight interceptions this year.

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