“He’s one of the kids that God just made a football player.”
That’s what Monty Rice’s high-school coach Wade Waldrop said about him when college recruiters came to James Clemens High in Madison, Alabama to scout players. Rice was on a team with plenty of other all-star recruits, but Rice always loved contact and had a nose for the ball. Rice was a three-star recruit according to a lot of services his Senior year, but by the time Signing Day came many bumped him up to a four-star on the strength of what he put on tape his final year.
His journey to Athens was unorthodox in some ways. Rice is quiet, and has always been the type of guy to let his play on the field talk for him. The chaos of the recruiting process didn’t appeal to him. Rice’s commitment ceremony ended with him making a pledge to the LSU Tigers. A few minutes later he was on the phone with a UGA recruiter saying he’d made a huge mistake. Dawg fans never saw him put on a UGA hat in front of cameras. He just showed up to Athens as an early enrollee the next January and became the 23rd member of Georgia’s 2017 recruiting class. It’s the type of origin story that ended in Rice becoming a DGD, and a frequent contributor over the last few years.
Georgia fans have gotten used to two stalwarts in Kirby Smart and Dan Lanning’s defense the last few seasons. Richard LeCounte quarterbacked the secondary. Rice was often seen tapping lineman on the hip to get into the right gap and telling his fellow linebackers who their keys were.
Rice brings a lot to an NFL team. He’s exceptional at shedding blocks. Rice is an instinctual inside backer that knows how to shed blocks and climb through traffic at the second level. He also anticipates which lane a runner is going to pick and is a sure tackler when he gets to the ball. Rice wasn’t asked to blitz often in UGA’s defensive scheme, but he had some good moments when he did. This play against Tennessee last year was one of the highlights of Georgia’s season.
Rice’s 2019 tape has been called better than what he put on film in 2020 by a lot of scouts, but Monty played through a foot injury for much of the year. He ran a 4.57 at Georgia’s Pro Day last month, but if there’s any weakness in his game it would be when he gets matched up in space on fast twitch skill players in pass coverage.
Rice is rated as high as a 2nd-round pick by certain experts, and Pro Football Network’s mock draft has him joining his former Bulldog teammate Mecole Hardman in Kansas City. Wherever Rice is next season, his presence will be missed in Athens. He finished his career as a Butkus Award finalist and a first-team All-SEC linebacker despite being hampered with the foot injury.
For more film on Rice, check out this video below.
Stay tuned to Dawg Sports for continuing coverage of Georgia players in the draft, and as always... GO DAWGS!