As Mel Tucker demonstrated in 2017, you can do a lot of things with a guy like Roquan Smith.
The one thing you probably can't do is replace him. One of the guys tasked with trying to do so in 2018 will be sophomore inside linebacker Monty Rice. Rice served as Smith’s understudy at the weak inside linebacker spot last season. He made it onto the field in 14 of 15 contests (with a start in place of the suspended Natrez Patrick and the injured Reggie Carter against Mizzou), notching 22 tackles.
When you watch Rice on the field you can't help but notice his energy level. It’s a cliche to talk about “"high motor guys” but the 6’1, 235 pound standout from Madison, Alabama’s James Clemens High really is one of those players who never seems to gear down. He’s relentless in getting to the quarterback and surprisingly agile in coverage. I have no doubt that he has the physical tools to hold his own in the middle of the Bulldog defense.
The big question in my mind will be whether Rice can step in and provide the leadership on and off the field that Roquan the Destroyer did. In fact there’s no guarantee that Rice will hold onto the starting role for 2018 with fellow second year player Nate McBride and senior Juwan Taylor also vying for the spot. But I saw enough of Rice last season to expect that the Bulldog coaches will find a spot for him to shine in 2018. Until later...