Senior | 6’1″, 235 lbs | January 8, 1999 | Huntsville, AL
A tough and athletic linebacker with stoutness, hit power, and good motor.
Monty Rice returns to Athens for his senior season after his first full season as a solidified starter for the Bulldogs in 2019. He has a history of good production for Kirby Smart: finishing 3rd on the team in stops in 2019 despite missing 5 games, as well as leading the team in tackles for 2020 when he had a full slate of games under his belt. As the reigning Defensive MVP for the Dawgs he will have high expectations for his final campaign, as will the rest of the nation’s top run defense from 2019.
- Explosive: good downhill flow and sideline-to-sideline range
- Good Thick Frame
- Low Pad Level/Leverage
- Pursuit Angles
- Stout at the point of attack
- Scrapping over the top
- Not afraid to collision blockers or crossing receivers
- Hit Stick Power
- Reactive Athleticism
Areas To Improve:
- Reactive Not Instinctive: Processing and reading the play can be slow at times
- Tends to get locked up with blockers and clog holes rather than fill them with authority
- Route Recognition in zone
- Man coverage is an unknown variable due to lack of consistent reps
- Blitz production in pass game
- Missed final 5 games of 2018 with knee injury
Way Too Early Projection:
Rice is an interesting prospect at linebacker due to his proven ability against the run, but his pass defense is a bit of an unknown. On clear passing situations UGA tends to swap out the entire front 7 for pure pass rushers and LB/SAF hybrids. Whether or not this is an indication of Rice’s ability in coverage or just a personal preference of HC Kirby Smart and DC Dan Lanning can be debated, but it can’t be overlooked that Rice is off the field in some key passing situations regardless of the reason. Luckily for Rice his production against the run is undeniable, and he has the athletic ability to be a contributor on special teams if needed. As of right now, expect Rice to be called on Day 3, possibly late Day 2 if he can prove his coverage ability is sufficient.
What To Watch For:
Most of the Georgia defense, Rice included, takes it as a personal offense that they gave up so many rushing touchdowns (2) in 2019, so expect the Dawgs run defense to try and beat that mark this season. Expect Rice to continue his dominance against the run and to keep delivering punishing hits. He needs to process what is happening faster, and more reps should help him on that front. A major thing to look for will be trusting his eyes more, and just playing instinctively as opposed to reactively. If he can manage to be on the field more often for passing downs, watch for what his true ability in the pass game is.