HINESVILLE, Ga. (WSAV) – Ask anybody who knew Richard LeCounte before the lights shined on him and you’ll hear one word: athlete.
The Liberty County football star seemed like the best player on any field he went to for years.
That won him lots of fans.
“It seems like every tackle, I was saying ‘tackle by Richard Lecounte. Tackle assisted by Richard LeCounte,’” said Derrick Mitchell, who was the public address announcer for some of LeCounte’s games and a longtime LeCounte family friend. “I called his name so much that I was looking for someone else’s name to call.”
LeCounte hears his name called plenty: now he’s just waiting for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to do it too.
“That kid – this is just my opinion, I may get some slack for this – but I believe Richard LeCounte is the best athlete to ever come out of Liberty County,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell isn’t alone in his praise; Panther football alum and New England Patriots linebacker Raekwon McMillan thinks so too.
“He was head and shoulders above the rest of the people his age athletically and mentally out there on the field,” McMillan said.
It wasn’t long before college coaches saw in LeCounte what those around him knew for years.
“Richard was a freshman and he caught two one-handed interceptions in front of the coach from Florida, D.J. Durkin” McMillan remembers. “Durkin said that’s the best freshman he’d ever seen in his life.”
LeCounte would opt to commit to the Georgia Bulldogs as a safety over more than two dozen other offers.
Everything was on track for LeCounte to be a high draft pick until a motor vehicle accident ended his final season prematurely.
“I didn’t even talk about the draft or football or Richard’s life (after the accident,)” Mitchell said. “As long as you’re OK, my prayers are sent up.”
LeCounte is expected to make a full recovery and join his longtime friend McMillan to become the next Liberty County grad to make it big.
“It’s definitely a sense of pride because that’s where we’re from, that’s where we grew up,” McMillan said of Liberty County. “We’re going to be lifelong friends.”