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HINESVILLE, Ga. — Richard LeCounte III does not plan to take an official visit to Georgia. He does want to visit Ohio State at some point this fall. That may or may not be an official visit.
Those statements normally would be enough to populate a headline packed with tension for UGA fans. And they just might apply as a panic-button moment for any other high-profile recruit.
But this is LeCounte we’re talking about. The first player to commit to Kirby Smart at Georgia isn’t going anywhere but to Athens in January. The nation’s No. 1 safety has been recruiting on behalf of the program like few would ever dream.
The 5-star prospect has a countdown timer on his smartphone that ticks off the seconds before he becomes a Liberty County graduate. There’s a picture behind that timer of UGA all-time great Champ Bailey.
The reasons why he likely won’t take an official visit to UGA only seem to reinforce that commitment.
“I don’t really need it,” LeCounte said. “Not really. My parents could go up there, and stuff like that but they don’t need to go up to Georgia for a whole weekend and see everything. But I don’t think it is fair for coaches to take an official where coaches feel like they have to spend time talking to me on my official when I am already coming. They need to spend time on somebody like a (5-star RB Cam) Akers when he comes on his official or another Jeffrey (Okudah) level of player when they are in Athens for an important official. I just feel like I would be wasting everyone’s time being up there on an official.”
Here’s a key point: Georgia’s most effective commitment-slash-recruiter plans to be in Athens for important December official visits to help sell the program to future teammates, but he just won’t be there as an official visitor.
“I’ll come every weekend that they need me to be there to keep building up the class,” he said. “I don’t have any problem going up there to help. Coaches sell their programs all the time, but players also really listen to players. I know that players will listen to coaches about a program, but I know they will also listen to me, too.”
As for the Ohio State visit? He might even pay for that trip out of pocket. That’s another example of loyalty to Georgia.
“I feel like I have to show them that example of respect,” LeCounte said. “They have been talking and interacting since I was a young ‘un, so I feel like that’s something I should do.”
LeCounte’s former Liberty County teammate, Raekwon McMillan, is also a starting linebacker at Ohio State. The All-American candidate was a Butkus Award finalist a year ago and is projected to be an early pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
LeCounte already knows he plans to room with 4-star QB commit Jake Fromm in Athens. Those two also will come straight to Athens after a week in Texas at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Toneil Carter, a 4-star RB commitment, also plans to enroll early at UGA.
Does he hope for any other potential roommates in Athens? He said he’ll have his fingers crossed that it also could be Akers and 4-star WR Jeremiah Holloman. Both of those guys also will be at the Army Bowl in San Antonio.
Hurricane Matthew aftermath
LeCounte’s part of the state in southeast Georgia was affected by Hurricane Matthew’s path last week. Toppled trees are everywhere around Hinesville, and a large part of the community that surrounds Fort Stewart had been without power for at least 4-5 days.
He hasn’t gone to school at all this week because classes are canceled. His high school team made up its game from last week on Tuesday and will play another on Saturday in Appling County.
“We’re blessed that the eye of the hurricane didn’t hit here like maybe how it was supposed to,” LeCounte said. “We can recover from that. I’m glad everybody is safe. You can rebuild a town up but you can’t replace a life.”
The electricity at his home came back on Tuesday, but he said some of his teammates still don’t have power.
“It was so bad on the road where one of my coaches live,” LeCounte said. “There were big trees that had fallen over the road. You couldn’t even go into the ditch and pull it off. So we had to go and get a chainsaw and cut it up and throw it in the woods and keep going. You’d go about less than a mile and do the same thing. We did that at least four times to get to the house. It was just that bad with the trees falling on the power lines and stuff.”
LeCounte on DeAngelo Gibbs
There is no question LeCounte and major 4-star DB target DeAngelo Gibbs had a great time at the Tennessee game earlier this month. Those two were side-by-side in the stands as Georgia took the late lead on Jacob Eason’s touchdown heave with 10 seconds to play.
Gibbs was exuberant. LeCounte said Wednesday night that there’s no way Gibbs wasn’t enjoying himself at that moment. He’d have Denzel Washington-type acting skills if that was an act.
“You can’t sit there and act like he wasn’t when he was,” LeCounte said. “I know he is trying to play it cool and stuff like that but we were having a good time. That’s been my guy since Day 1, really since we got on the scene together in ninth grade when we went to the All-American game in San Antonio for the freshmen. We’ve been tight ever since throughout. That special little vibe we had going felt good. That could be the thing we could do and bring to Georgia.”
He wants to play with him at Georgia.
“I really hope he makes the right decision for him,” LeCounte said. “That’s my guy whether he comes (to Georgia) or not. He will still be my dude whether he comes or not. Me and him both back there at safety would be special right there.”
LeCounte said he will continue to stay in the ear of 5-star cornerback prospect Jeffrey Okudah about UGA. Okudah took his official visit to Georgia for the Tennessee game. Okudah is rated as the No. 1 cornerback prospect and No. 6 overall prospect for 2017.
He’s expected to end up at Ohio State, but that will not prevent LeCounte from continuing to keep plugging away.
Another Facebook Live commit chat
DawgNation has hosted a lot of live chats with UGA commitments over the last six months. Fromm’s interaction with the fans proved popular. We’ve held similar chats with Trey Blount, D’Antne Demery, Jaden Hunter, Netori Johnson, D’Andre Swift, Max Wray and DeVonte Wyatt, among others.
LeCounte had almost an hour of his time Wednesday evening to spend with Georgia fans on the Facebook Live platform. He showed up with a UGA shirt and jacket and thanked fans for all their support.
He stated in that interview that he doesn’t expect to lose to any team that wears orange when he’s in Athens. That’s both Florida and Tennessee.
“I love you guys,” LeCounte said. “You are the best fans in the world. I look forward to playing for ya’ll for the next 3-4 years. All the great questions. I appreciate it.”
There were almost 20,000 live viewers of the chat and there had been 866 comments made regarding the video as of 7:25 a.m. on Thursday morning.
The entire live chat is embedded below.
Change of plans for Demery
Hurricane Matthew postponed LeCounte’s U.S. Army All-American jersey presentation ceremony last Friday. It also has affected that same event for UGA offensive tackle commitment D’Antne Demery at Brunswick (Ga.) High School.
The nearly 6-foot-6, 320-pounder was scheduled to receive his jersey this morning, but that event has been postponed until Dec. 1. Demery and his Pirates don’t have school this week in the aftermath of that storm.
Demery is rated as the nation’s No. 17 OT and the No. 118 overall prospect in the nation for the Class of 2017. He shared why he chose Georgia over Alabama and Florida in a DawgNation commitment video earlier this year.
He suffered a significant loss earlier this year with the passing of his mother, who had been in declining health. The Pirates have dedicated their season to honor her memory.
New name to keep in mind for 2018
The Augusta, Ga., area has produced a few Bulldogs of late with names like CJ Byrd, Sanders Commings, Marcus Washington and Jarius Wynn, among others.
Could Evans High (Evans, Ga.) junior linebacker Coby Germany be a Bulldog one day? The 6-foot-3, 245-pounder hasn’t been rated by any of the major services, but he will visit UGA this weekend.
Those rankings will be there sooner rather than later. Germany plays for Lemuel Lackey at Evans. I’d trust his evaluation skills more than I would any star ranking.
“Great kid,” Lackey said. “He’s played a rush-type LB for us. He has a great look and is built right.”
Lackey said Germany has good speed (4.75 in the 40-yard dash) at that position. His midseason highlight film below shows that he will fire off the line with a strong punch and can make plays behind the line. He doesn’t have an offer but has received strong interest from Clemson and Georgia Tech.
“He has good size and moves extremely well,” Lackey said. “He has good change of direction speed and good grades with a 3.3 GPA.”
Germany is shown knocking the offensive line back in a lot of his early 2016 clips. He’s bounced back from a sprained MCL that cost him a lot of reps last season.
UGA assistant coach Shane Beamer is now the area recruiter for that part of the state.
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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.