Following An Outstanding G-Day, Georgia Linebacker Looks To Be A Future Star

Jake Fromm (11) and Georgia linebacker Monty Rice (32) react after losing to the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2018 CFP national championship -- Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Following An Outstanding G-Day, Georgia Linebacker Looks To Be A Future Star

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Following An Outstanding G-Day, Georgia Linebacker Looks To Be A Future Star



Following an outstanding G-Day, Georgia linebacker looks to be headed towards stardom…

The 2017 Georgia Bulldogs boasted one of the greatest linebacker groups in school history, with Roquan Smith, Davin Bellamy and Lorenzo Carter terrorizing opposing offenses en route to a shot at the national title. But as well all know, star players come and go, and Georgia is looking to reload at the linebacker position for the upcoming season.

And that’s where sophomore inside linebacker Monty Rice comes in.

If you watched the Georgia G-Day spring game, you’re likely familiar with Rice (#32). The sophomore recorded 14 tackles in a game where he saw limited playing time and where the quarters were shortened to 12 minutes.

Very impressive, right? Well, Rice, when informed of his stat-line, did not think so.

“Nah, because I missed a few assignments that I feel like cost the team,” said Rice. “On defense, me and Natrez [Patrick] and Juwan [Taylor] and all the linebackers, we’ve got to contain better, we’ve got to be better on signals, we’ve got to communicate better, we’ve got to know what the DBs are doing so we can all be on one page and work as a unit.”

After a little convincing, Rice finally admitted that it was not his worst showing.

“I thought I played all right, I guess,” he said. “I just want to play at my best all the time. I’m going to need to be my best in the fourth quarter [of] SEC games, so I’ve just got to be much better.”

Rice came to Georgia as a 4-star recruit last year out of Madison, Alabama and played in 14 of 15 games for the Dawgs in 2017, even getting one start during Natrez Patrick’s absence. You may remember Rice for keeping Mississippi State out of the end zone one final time to preserve a 31-3 Georgia win early in the season.

Kirby Smart, who will be looking for someone to fill the void of Smith at inside linebacker, is very high on Rice, saying he was “sideline-to-sideline,” on Saturday.

“Monty showed up,” Smart said following G-Day. “He was sideline-to-sideline. … He’s a great kid, man. He’s one of those when the lights come on and he gets a chance to play in front of somebody, he flashes more. He just loves the game. He loves contact. He loves to hit.”

READ: Projecting Georgia’s 2018 defensive depth chart

Smart said Rice pulled a hamstring late in the game but still finished strong. Since G-Day marked the conclusion of spring practice, Rice will have plenty of time to rest up and heal as he prepares for a big 2018.

Smith put together one of the most impressive defensive seasons in school history in 2017, and Rice admits he was lucky to learn from him for a year.

“He’s just a phenomenal player,” Rice said of Smith. “I remember a play in the Rose Bowl where he got pushed down, but he maintained his balance and still made the tackle. He’s just a freak athlete, and I’m glad I got a year with him by getting here early. When I first got here, we’d have pre-practice walk-throughs, and he was telling me what to do and what calls to make. So he’s a very helpful guy.”

As great as Smith was during his time at Georgia, Rice does not want to be considered a player who is just trying to fill some empty shoes.

“I don’t look at it as stepping into anybody’s shoes,” he said. “I’m Monty Rice.”

And that’s a name to remember.

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