Georgia senior Monty Rice and sophomore Nakobe Dean have been named two of 16 semifinalists for the Butkus Award, which is given to the nation’s best linebacker.
Rice, a native of Huntsville, Ala., and Dean, a native of Horn Lake, Miss., are two of eight players from the Southeastern Conference on the list and the only teammates who are semifinalists. Finalists for the award are expected to be announced on Dec 7.
Dean was the 2018 high school Butkus Award winner following his career at Horn Lake High School (Miss.). While former Bulldog and current New York Giant Tae Crowder was a semifinalist for the collegiate honor in 2019, former Georgia linebacker and current Chicago Bear Roquan Smith won the 2017 collegiate Butkus Award.
Rice has started seven of eight games this year and 28 in his career. The 2020 three-time team captain is second on the squad with 46 stops, including four tackles for loss and a sack. Rice has also forced two fumbles and recovered another.
Dean has started all eight games this season after playing in every game last year. Dean leads the team with 63 stops, including 1.5 sacks, and is ranked 11th in the SEC in that category. He posted a career-high 15 against No. 8 Florida and has three games with more than 10 tackles this year.
Anchored by Rice and Dean in the middle, the Bulldog defense ranks second in the league allowing just 20.6 points/game. The unit also has an SEC high 23 sacks and is ranked third nationally in Rushing Defense at 75.2 yards/game.
The No. 9 Bulldogs (6-2 SEC) play host to Vanderbilt (0-8 SEC) on Dooley Field in Sanford Stadium this Saturday. SEC Network will televise the game at 4 p.m.