It’s been more than a month since Liberty County Panther freshman football phenom Richard LeCounte traded pads for hoops.
A couple of days after the Statesboro Gentlemen’s Classic, LeCounte put his football pads back on. He landed Tuesday in San Antonio, Texas, to get ready for the Eastbay All-American Bowl, which features the top freshmen players in the country and will be played Saturday in the Alamo Dome.
“It’s been a real blessing being one of the top 50 athletes in the nation,” LeCounte said.
The bowl is in its infancy, unlike the week’s main event, the U.S. Army All-American Bowl for high-school players.
Andrew Luck, Tim Tebow, Jamaal Charles, Percy Harvin, Patrick Peterson, De’Anthony Thomas and more than 350 current NCAA and NFL players are Army All-American alumni.
The main difference between the Army game and Eastbay’s is simply age. The older players must be faster, but the younger players are gaining on them and both groups are going through intense practices with the best high-school and college coaches in the country.
LeCounte is getting the opportunity to find out how good he can be against the best players in the country. Among the Eastebay’s players is LeCounte’s biggest competition for the MaxPreps freshman of the year, LSU recruit Dylan Moses. Moses was offered a scholarship to LSU as an eighth-grader.
“Practices are basically the game,” LeCounte said. “You’ve got to go hard every rep but the speed increases.”
And his work is being noticed.
“It’s actually harder for these freshmen players to make it than the older players because we only have 50 slots for this first freshman game,” Eastbay Bowl director and Football University founder Eric Richards said. “We found Richard by way of Raekwon (McMillan), and then we saw the YouTube highlight reel, and then he started setting himself apart.”
Richards knows talent. The various camps he has put on through Football University all over the United States have a long list of alumni playing in the SEC and other major conferences, as well as the NFL.
“Richard has an amazing amount of raw talent,” Richards said. “You have to remember that he turned 15 years old two months ago. His ability to make plays is natural talent. Once he starts to refine his technique and the technical skill and athletic ability merges, his future is unlimited.”
LeCounte has one simple goal for the week.
“I want to be named top kid in the nation,” he said.
LeCounte currently is featured on the cover of the December issue of In the Game High School Sports Magazine. In the Game is available at local Flash Foods.
The Youth EastBay All American game will be webcast at www.footballuniversity.org.