2020 Georgia Football Primer: Monty Rice leads a lean, mean inside linebacking corps

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2020 Georgia Football Primer: Monty Rice leads a lean, mean inside linebacking corps

UGA ILB Monty Rice (32) celebrates the Bulldogs' 26-14 Sugar Bowl victory over Baylor with fans | New Orleans, LA | Wednesday, January 01, 2020
UGA ILB Monty Rice (32) celebrates the Bulldogs’ 26-14 Sugar Bowl victory over Baylor with fans | New Orleans, LA | Wednesday, January 01, 2020

IMPORTANT UPDATE REGARDING UGA FOOTBALL’S SPRING PRACTICE:

Friday, March 13, 2020, 4:00 p.m. ET: The SEC announced that all organized team activities, including competitions, team, and individual practices, meetings, and other organized gatherings, will be suspended through April 15th. This includes spring football practices, scrimmages, and games.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020, 3:00 p.m. ET: The SEC has announced all regular-season conference and non-conference competitions are cancelled for the remainder of the 2019-20 athletic year This includes all spring football games and remaining SEC championship events, due to continuing developments related to the coronavirus.

Last week we started our 2020 Georgia Spring Football Primer looking at the different offensive position groups as well as special teams counting down till the opening day of spring practice. Of course, in the midst of our count down, we learned that that opening day for UGA has been pushed back due to the coronavirus as the NCAA and SEC have suspended all collegiate team activities and gatherings through April 15th. Just a few short days later, we learned all spring team activities and sports had been cancelled, which includes spring practice and the G-Day game. Hence the name change, dropping “Spring” from the title. So with that, let us tackle the defensive side of the ball and take a look at a position group that returns the majority of its playmakers from the 2019 team.

At the start of Fall Camp last August, I got the opportunity to observe the Bulldogs’ inside linebackers during practice. To say I was impressed is an understatement. I wrote that this was a lean and mean looking group of backers. Tae Crowder, Nate McBride, Monty Rice, Channing Tindall, and Quay Walker were joined by incoming freshmen Rian Davis, Nokobe Dean, and Trezman Marshall, and Nolan Smith to form the 2019 inside linebacking corps.

All those linebackers return with the exception of Crowder who finished his fifth-year season in the Sugar Bowl Game victory over Baylor on January 1st.

Monty Rice could have very easily decided to forego the remainder of his collegiate eligibility and declare for the NFL Draft but made the decision to return for his senior season. The veteran Rice will be anchoring and leading the middle of the linebackers.

No. 32 led all Georgia defenders with 89 tackles last season, playing in and starting in all 14 games for the Bulldogs at both the MIKE and WILL ILB positions. 50 of those tackles were solo. While the competition for playing time at any of the positions is wide open, Rice will likely be the starter at MIKE.

UGA ILB Quay Walker (25) | Georgia vs. Kentucky - Fourth Quarter | Saturday, October 19, 2019
UGA ILB Quay Walker (25) | Georgia vs. Kentucky – Fourth Quarter | Saturday, October 19, 2019

After Rice, 6-foot-4 and 240 lbs Quay Walker is the next most experienced ILB. The junior has played in 27 games the last two seasons and finished with 23 tackles credited to his name in 2019, including 3.5 for a loss and 2.5 quarterback sacks. Walker is a versatile backer and will be one of the top-four ILBs in the rotation on game days.

But when we talking about veteran players returning, what about Nate McBride?

McBride is entering his fourth season at the University of Georgia and is one of a number of players who have made a name for himself on special teams. He has played in 43 games either participating on special teams or as a back-up at inside linebacker. A talented, fast athlete, the 6-foot-2 and 223 lbs senior will look to earn more playing at ILB in addition to special teams.

Who plays beside Rice and Walker is the bigger question?

UGA ILB Nakobe Dean (17) | Georgia vs. Georgia Tech - First Quarter | Saturday, November 30, 2019
UGA ILB Nakobe Dean (17) | Georgia vs. Georgia Tech – First Quarter | Saturday, November 30, 2019

Nakobe Dean led all true freshmen with 25 tackles in 2019, and despite battling through injuries early on, he came on strong as he got healthy. If he can stay healthy, I expect the 6-foot-0 and 220 sophomore to see a lot of playing time alongside Rice at the WILL ILB spot.

The 6-foot-2 and 218 lbs Channing Tindall will be entering his junior season with the Bulldogs in 2020. Last season, Tindall played in 11 of Georgia’s 14 games making 9 stops and 1.5 quarterback sacks along with three quarterback pressures. The competition between Dean and Tindall will be one to watch this fall. Even if he doesn’t start, Tindall will be in the rotation.

Also in the mix is 6-foot-1 and 230 lbs Trezman Marshall who played in 14 as a true freshman this past season, mainly on special teams, and notched five total tackles.

Rian Davis is another 2019 signee, but he was only able to participate in one game and took redshirt last season. Part of the reason for his limited playing is that Davis was coming off an ACL knee injury he suffered his senior year of high school.

MIKE INSIDE LINEBACKER

  1. Monty Rice | Sr. | 6-foot-1 | 235 lbs | James Clemens HS, GA
  2. Quay Walker | Jr. | 6-foot-4 | 240 lbs | Crisp Co. HS, GA
  3. Trezmen Marshall | So. | 6-foot-1 | 230 lbs | Clinch Co. HS, GA
  4. Rian Davis | RFr. | 6-foot-2 | 230 lbs | Weika HS, FL
UGA ILB Channing Tindall (41) | Georgia vs. Vanderbilt | Saturday, August 31, 2019
UGA ILB Channing Tindall (41) | Georgia vs. Vanderbilt | Saturday, August 31, 2019

WILL INSIDE LINEBACKER

  1. Nakobe Dean | So. | 6-foot-0 | 220 lbs | Horn Lake HS, MS
  2. Channing Tindall | Jr. | 6-foot-2 | 218 lbs | Spring Valley HS, SC
  3. Nate McBride | Sr. | 6-foot-2 | 223 lbs | Vidalia HS, GA
  4. Rian Davis | RFr. | 6-foot-2 | 230 lbs | Weika HS, FL

2020 Georgia Football Primer Series:

I. Quarterbacks: Bulldogs look for a new field general under center

II. New offensive line coach Matt Luke tasked with replacing three starters

III. The next chapter in “Running Back U”

IV. Young and talented receiving corps led by George Pickens

V. Washington and McKitty join talented tight end group of FitzPatrick, Goede, and Seither

VI. Who has a leg up on special teams?

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The University of Georgia 1991-1994. Lanier Tech 2009-2012. Writer and graphic artist covering UGA athletics, college football, and recruiting. Peach cobbler fears me!