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Hyosub Shin / AJC
Georgia safety Richard LeCounte believes this could be the year the Bulldogs get past Alabama and win the national championship.

Richard LeCounte: Why Georgia has ‘great chance to be national champion’ this season

ATHENS — Georgia senior safety Richard LeCounte has learned from his head coach and safety mentor Kirby Smart to make his words and actions count.

That made it all the more interesting when LeCounte said on a Zoom call hosted by The Bulldog Club that this time next year Georgia could be national champions.

WATCH: Richard LeCounte believes time at UGA ‘something special

It was one of the reasons LeCounte chose to return to Athens for another season when considering whether or not to declare himself eligible for the 2020 NFL Draft.

“I knew that we have a chance, a great chance, to be national champion at this time next year,” LeCounte said on the video, which was narrated by former UGA quarterback D.J. Shockley.

“So I was like, I can’t leave my guys, I can’t leave my brothers,” LeCounte said. “ I felt the mission was still on the table, and I’ve got to complete this mission before I go on to my next mission. So I came back.

“We have some unfinished business we’ve got on the table. We have to finish what we’ve got going on right here.”

Georgia players returned to campus earlier this month for the start of voluntary workouts on June 8.

Smart isn’t allowed to oversee on-field workouts until July 15, and the Bulldogs don’t start practice in full pads until Aug. 14.

RELATED: Why UGA is two days behind most schools returning to practice

LeCounte said the defense can get even better than it was last season.

The Bulldogs led the nation in scoring defense and rushing defense in 2019, and they ranked No. 3 in total defense and No. 8 in pass efficiency defense.

“As stingy as we play, man, we’re trying to get the ball back to the offense, we’re trying to create havoc, we’re trying to be able make the other team feel our will,” LeCounte said. “Those guys in that room are so selfless, there’s nobody in that room that wouldn’t lay it all on the line for the team.”

RELATED: Jamie Newman says he picked UGA because of team defense

LeCounte, the only Georgia defensive player to make the Athlon preseason All-SEC first team, said it’s just a matter of the team being focused.

RELATED: No-name defense narrative continues for Georgia football

“When those guys put that stuff together, man, nobody can run on us, and nobody can throw on us when we really lock in and get our mind set on things,” LeCounte said

“We have a lot of guys coming back, eight or nine (starting) guys returning. At any position, there could be a new hat in there, and it doesn’t fall off at all.”

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