Monty Rice: “I didn’t opt out because I love my teammates.”

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Monty Rice: “I didn’t opt out because I love my teammates.”

Monty Rice (32) - Georgia vs. Kentucky 2019 - Third Quarter - October 19, 2019
Monty Rice (32) – Georgia vs. Kentucky 2019 – Third Quarter – October 19, 2019

Last season, Georgia had one of the best defenses in the country, arguably the most dominant in the program’s long history.

Georgia’s defense led the nation in scoring defense only allowing an average of 12.6 points per game. That same unit also finished 2019 ranked third in total defense, first in rush defense and eighth in team passing efficiency defense. That unit also gave up the fewest rushing touchdowns in the nation (2), and the pair were not to opposing team’s running backs, but to quarterbacks.

Although there performance was great in 2019, senior inside linebacker Monty Rice thinks this year’s defense can do better.

“We don’t need anyone on the team, especially on defense, to start feeling [full of themselves] based on last year,” said Rice. “We’ve been hyped up on Twitter, and all of that, that we did so great last year.”

Rice, who led the team in total tackles with 89, could have decided to skip his senior campaign. But he chose to come back, and be one of the leaders on a defense that returns 11 of their 14 top tackles from a year ago. Rice also had the chance to opt out this year because of safety concerns over Covid-19, but decided not to because he cares for teammates.

He admitted, “I didn’t opt out because I love my teammates.”

Even though he chose to return, Rice said he didn’t think that the upcoming season wouldn’t even happen because of the global pandemic.

“Yeah, I wasn’t very confident we were going to play this year, especially after the other conferences (Big Ten and Pac-12) shut it down,” Rice said. “But we’re here for a reason, so let’s play.”

Georgia inside linebacker Monty Rice (32) during the Bulldogs’ practice session in Athens, Ga., on Monday, Sept. 21, 2020. (Photo by Tony Walsh)
Georgia inside linebacker Monty Rice (32) during the Bulldogs’ practice session in Athens, Ga., on Monday, Sept. 21, 2020. (Photo by Tony Walsh)

The Georgia defense is loaded and Rice is one of the faces of the defense alongside fellow senior Richard LeCounte. There were also several other players named to the preseason All-SEC first, second and third teams voted on by league’s coaches. They include Jordan Davis, Malik Herring, LeCounte, Eric Stokes, Nakobe Dean and Nolan Smith. There are also several other names not mentioned that are going to trouble for opposing offenses, as well.

Even with all that talent, Rice knows that Arkansas isn’t going to care about what Georgia’s defense did last year.

“Arkansas, that group over there, they don’t care about what happened last year—and neither do we,” Rice said. “So, it’s time to make a new stamp.”

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Currently an intern for BI, and a junior journalism major at the University of Georgia.