ATHENS ― If players are lucky enough to be in a college football program long enough, they start to see things run full circle.
Richard LeCounte, in his first season at Georgia, already has picked up on that.
The goal of any program is for the younger players to learn from the older ones because experience goes a long way on the field. And for LeCounte, when he looks out on the field, he sees men he wants to emulate in his coming years at Georgia.
“Man, I see poise, and I see guys that I want to be like,” LeCounte said. “These are guys that I want to mold myself after because they are such great examples, not only for me but all the younger guys in the program.”
Lining up around him every day are experienced Georgia veterans such as Dominick Sanders and Aaron Davis, two players who probably know Georgia football like the back of their hands and have anchored Georgia’s secondary for years. Davis is a fifth-year senior, while Sanders is among the leaders in interceptions in Georgia history.
But like LeCounte, Davis and Sanders learned from the players ahead of them. And after playing in his final game at Sanford Stadium a couple of weeks ago, Davis said that without the leadership and teaching that was extended to him throughout the years, he wouldn’t be where he is.
“I have to owe it all to the different players that I faced,” Davis said. “I was on the scout team going against Chris Conley, Malcolm Mitchell, Justin Scott-Wesley. Just seeing all those guys and learning from them, that just prepared me for the next four years in order to go out there, play and contribute.”
As Davis begins to look back on his time at Georgia, LeCounte now looks ahead to his career, saying that the foundation that the seniors around him laid this season is what he is going to try to continue to do throughout the next few years.
“It’s like seeing your big brothers achieve greater things,” LeCounte said in regards to the veterans on the team. “It’s about bringing this program to the next level.”
That is something LeCounte is already trying to do.
Around a year ago, before LeCounte made his way to Athens for his freshman year, coach Kirby Smart described him as “exciting.” LeCounte was a 5-star recruit from Liberty County High School in Hinesville, Ga.
“He’s a bowling ball of energy I tell you that,” Smart told 680 The Fan’s Official Visit radio show nearly a year ago. “He’s a kid that loves the game. He loves people … and he’s done a great job helping us with this class.”
But LeCounte’s help on the recruiting trail didn’t stop once he got to Georgia. As one of the few freshmen this season to start in at least one game, LeCounte is in the market to get more players to Athens.
“[Richard] said, ‘If you come in here, there might be a guy above you on the depth chart that’s pretty good, but every day in practice we’re going after each other and making each other better,’ ” 2018 recruit Justin Fields told DawgNation’s Jeff Sentell. “He said, ‘We’re going 100 percent and full throttle’ in his message to us.”
It’s a message that could carry a lot of weight going into the hottest time of the year in terms of recruiting. But it all cycles back to what Georgia’s seniors were able to do on and off the field this season.
“When you have older guys on the team, they kind of know how to do it right,” Davin Bellamy told DawgNation’s Seth Emerson. “If they’re contributing on the field also, it gives the younger guys more reason to look up to them. Anybody would be a fool not to learn from older people in front of them.”
LeCounte is no fool. He knows and sees the impact the veterans on this Georgia team have had on him throughout his first season, and he plans to do just that in the coming years for the players who will be in his shoes next year.
“Having those guys around you, they keep you level-headed, they keep you in your place,” LeCounte said. “I mean all it’s going to do is make us stronger. You know the guys that have been molded out here, I think we are ready.”