Richard LeCounte-Georgia football-senior day
Richard LeCounte has been a key piece of the Georgia program.

Why the University of Georgia loves Richard LeCounte as much as he loves it

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Georgia football loves Richard LeCounte as much as he loves the school

It is not yet known if senior defensive back Richard LeCounte will get to play in Sanford Stadium one last time.

The All-SEC defensive back hasn’t played since Oct. 31 due to injuries sustained following a traffic accident. Kirby Smart provided a vague update on LeCounte’s status on Wednesday.

“He’s been out in practice and been able to run and do some things yesterday,” Smart said. “He still has not had contact, but we are working on rehabbing him and getting him back.”

Even if LeCounte were able to play, this is not the ending imagine for a player that has meant so much to the Georgia program.

The Riceboro, Ga., native has been a team captain, a vocal leader and the first recruit to commit Kirby Smart back in December of 2015. He helped lead the Bulldogs to three straight SEC East titles while playing on teams that won the SEC championship and Rose Bowl.

He brought so much to this team, his teammates and the school as a whole.

“He has been so loyal to Georgia in an era when that’s not normal,” Smart said. “It’s normal to de-commit, move here, decide late. He committed early, he was a great player and he stayed an extra year for his senior year.”

Smart still recalls the first time he met LeCounte back when LeCounte was either an eighth or ninth-grader. The latter was on a visit to Alabama with his Liberty County High School teammate Raekwon McMillan. While McMillan, a 5-star linebacker who went on to play at Ohio State and now plays for the Oakland Raiders, was the main priority, Smart pretty quickly picked up on the infectious personality LeCounte had.

LeCounte’s high school coach, Kirk Warner, also noticed LeCounte’s vibe and energy the first time he saw him as well.

“There’s that aura about him and that leadership quality,” Warner said. “He pretty much then backed it up on the football field.”

LeCounte went on to shine on both the football field and basketball court at Liberty County. His future was obviously in football as his athleticism helped him become a 5-star prospect, the first of many Smart landed as Georgia’s head coach.

Related: Kirby Smart lands a 5-star with his first UGA commitment in Richard LeCounte

Before he put on a Georgia jersey, LeCounte helped improve the Georgia program. He was one of the key architects of the 2017 recruiting class that included the likes of D’Andre Swift, Andrew Thomas and Isaiah Wilson. Much like he was on the football field, LeCounte was a vocal leader and recruiter for the class.

LeCounte, on two separate occasions, even donned a Santa suit for commitment videos for Jeremiah Holloman, Malik Herring and Nate McBride.

“He just inspires me to be great,” Herring said of his teammate. “He just brought smiles and laughs to everybody.”

Teammates describe LeCounte as vocal and energetic both on and off the football field. As a safety, those are obviously key traits to have when you have to make sure teammates are lined up properly.

But they’re great qualities to have as well when it comes to interacting with people outside of the game.

LeCounte’s energy even gets the normally reserved Monty Rice to come out of his shell.

“It’s been good to be around him because I know when I first got to Georgia, I didn’t talk to a lot of people at all,” Rice said. “I stick to the people I know. I opened up to Rich and him and Malik (Herring) were kind of like the first people that I meshed with here.