Liberty County High School football player Richard LeCounte is flying Baltimore today to participate in the Rivals 100 Five-Star Challenge.
According to Panther head coach Kirk Warner, LeCounte, a rising sophomore, was selected to the invitation-only camp based on his performance during his freshman season last fall.
“It was an invitation only for the top freshmen through seniors … and he is only one of two freshmen that were invited, so it is a big deal for him,” Warner said.
It won’t be the first camp LeCounte has hit in the past few months. He attended the Football University Camp in May at Peachtree High School in Atlanta. According to a report on 247sports.com, he was listed as the top defensive back there.
LeCounte’s outstanding freshman year already has garnered looks from top Division I colleges. According to 247sports.com and rivals.com, LeCounte has 17 scholarship offers but remains uncommitted.
Serving primarily as a safety and kick-return player last season, he made five interceptions for 154 yards, tallied 99 tackles, and returned 19 punts for 324 yards and 17 kickoffs for 419 yards.
Warner said LeCounte will see action on the offensive side of the ball. The coach said his natural athleticism is a plus when it comes to being scouted.
“It is all about versatility,” Warner said. “Anytime you can be versatile and have an impact on both sides of the ball, it raises your ability to be nationally recognized and it will also help our team out this season. We are going to be smart about it. He is a defensive player in our books and in our minds, but he is going to have to get some offensive touches, at least until we get our quarterback situation settled.”
On offense last season, LeCounte caught 11 passes for 203 yards and carried the ball 21 times for 192 yards.
“I like defense better,” LeCounte admitted, adding he primarily served as a quarterback and played on offense in junior-varsity games. “I’ve gone back and forth … it’s a steady job … I like it … I can handle all of the duties that come with it.”
LeCounte learned a lot from former teammate and five-star recruit and current Ohio State Buckeye, Raekwon McMillan.
“He always tell me to keep a level head … focus on my team because high school only comes one time,” LeCounte said about conversations he’s had with McMillan. “And after all the recruiting stuff is over, it’s back to the real world … so he told me to stay focused and make sure I get my school work together.”
McMillan, currently on summer break from Ohio State, is back at LCHS to mentor LeCounte and other players.
Warner said LeCounte is starting to understand the future is up to him, and the camp in Baltimore this weekend is one of many chances he will get to show his ability.
“We’ve talked to him … and he has been showing up to work every day ... I tell him to stay humble,” the coach said. “Richard is going to play (Division I) football, provided that God blesses him and keeps him injury-free. This is a chance for him to gain national recognition, and he understands the importance of going there. He also knows the importance of what we are trying to accomplish here, and there is no conflict.”
Pumping iron during summer workouts this week, LeCounte spent a good portion of his time helping eighth- and ninth-graders develop proper lifting form.
“I am very excited about the upcoming season,” he said. “We have a lot of new people coming in … there are a lot of freshmen coming through and I just like to teach them … I’m excited to see all the young talent we have.”
The Panthers practice Monday through Thursday, Warner said.
“So he won’t miss a beat with us … he will go up there and compete this weekend and come back here ready to work on Monday,” the coach added.
LeCounte knows that camps, while important, don’t mean much if the Panthers don’t succeed this season.
“(Today) I am flying out to Baltimore … but after that, I don’t think I am going to do any more camps,” he said about the remainder of the summer. “I have to focus on the summer (workouts) with my team and get ready for the upcoming season.”