With the 169th pick of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns selected Georgia safety Richard LeCounte.
As he begins the next chapter of his football career, here is a look at three things to know about Richard LeCounte.
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) May 1, 2021
1. Phenom in High School
Almost from the start, LeCounte was a star in the making as a freshman at Liberty County High School in Hinesville, Georgia.
“Richard was a freshman and he caught two one-handed interceptions in front of the coach from Florida, D.J. Durkin” New England Patriots linebacker (and former Liberty star) Raekwon McMillan remembers. “Durkin said that’s the best freshman he’d ever seen in his life.”
“He was head and shoulders above the rest of the people his age athletically and mentally out there on the field,” McMillan said.
During his time at Liberty, LeCounte excelled on the gridiron, the hardwood, and in track and field.
In 2015-2016 alone, he helped the Panthers reach the GHSA Class AAAA state title game in basketball.
LeCounte’s team took down Jonesboro High School and the Panthers won their first championship, finishing with an outstanding 28-1 record.
Only a few months later, LeCounte competed in the high jump and cleared 6’4”.
Later that year, the Panthers got to the second round of the state playoffs in football and finished with an 8-4 record.
LeCounte’s numbers for the 2016 football season were 100 total tackles, four forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, two picks, and two defensive touchdowns.
He also played offense and added 25 receptions for 564 yards, four touchdowns, 865 yards rushing and seven more touchdowns, and even threw for 506 yards and six touchdown passes in occasional duty at quarterback.
“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. “I called his name so much that I was looking for someone else’s name to call.”
LeCounte’s athletic skills led to his co-Region 3-AAAA player of the year award for basketball.
He was also recognized as the Male Athlete of the Year by the Savannah Morning News.
Additionally, LeCounte was named the 2016 All-Greater Savannah Defensive Player of the Year honors.
After receiving dozens of college offers as a 5-Star recruit, LeCounte accepted a scholarship to play for Kirby Smart at Georgia.
2. Fantastic 2019 Season led to 2020 Pre-Season Accolades
LeCounte had a monster year for the Bulldogs in 2019 and was named the program’s Co-Defensive Most Improved Player Award after the season.
Among the many highlights for the year, LeCounte was: Georgia’s third-leading tackler with 61 total stops, led the SEC in fumbles recovered with three, and was second in the SEC in interceptions with four.
He had two interceptions in the Bulldogs Sugar Bowl win over Baylor.
https://t.co/4oCBYKluFW First play he decks claypool 😂 Welcome to Cleveland
— Drew (@WickedDrew) May 1, 2021
His efforts in ‘19 portended to a huge 2020.
Before last season began, LeCounte was on the preseason watch lists for the Bednarik Award (collegiate defensive player of the year), Jim Thorpe Award (nation’s top DB) and the Bronko Nagurski Trophy (nation’s top defensive player).
3. Traffic Accident Nearly Ends LeCounte’s Football Career and Life
LeCounte was exceeding expectations through the first five games of the 2020 season.
At that point, he had 26 total tackles, three interceptions, and four pass breakups.
Then, everything came crashing down (literally) on Halloween.
While riding a dirt bike, he was hit by a vehicle making a left hand turn.
After the collision, LeCounte and his bike were thrown into oncoming traffic where he was hit by another vehicle.
In the aftermath, LeCounte suffered cuts, bruises, and a shoulder injury.
Although none of his injuries required surgery, things could have been much worse.
“He’s lucky to be alive,” said his mother, Erika Blocker-LeCounte. “He was wearing his helmet and [that] saved his life.”
LeCounte returned for the Bulldogs’ Peach Bowl game against Cincinnati.
He remained on the sidelines for nearly the entire contest until Smart sent him in for the final play of the game.
Remarkably, LeCounte’s limited stats in 2020 still led to a First-team All SEC nod.
LeCounte should be completely healthy and ready for the Browns 2021 season.
Richard LeCounte says the NFL teams are asking him about the dirt bike accident and he tells them what happened.
Overall, he feels good physically and felt like he performed well at Pro Day, but always believes there’s room for improvement. pic.twitter.com/tqUT37Fmd3
— Alison Mastrangelo (@AlisonWSB) March 17, 2021