Monty Rice Drafted By Tennessee Titans- Second Player From James Clemens To Be Chosen By NFL
CLEVELAND, OHIO- Montavian Lamar Rice, nicknamed Monty, was drafted in round three of the 2021 NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans. The 6-foot-1, 235-pound linebacker, who played his collegiate years for the Georgia Bulldogs, became just the second player from James Clemens to be picked up by the NFL. Former Jet offensive lineman Logan Stenberg was the first Jet to be chosen and did so in 2020 by the Detroit Lions.
Rice, an All-SEC Selection and finalist for the Butkus Award, given annually to the top linebacker in the country, pushed his way through injuries to sustain his up-tempo play at Georgia. He anchored the No. 1 ranked run defense in the nation the past two seasons, but chose to enter the NFL Draft, skip the Bulldog’s bowl game and held himself out of workouts for the recent Senior Bowl.
Suffering through a foot injury during much of the 2020 season, Rice posted 49 tackles, four for a loss, and two forced fumbles in nine starts. His play was highly regarded over his career at Georgia where head coach Kirby Smart said of Rice, “I’ve never had a guy who practiced as hard as Monty does.”
Some draft experts actually questioned Tennessee’s pick of another linebacker with the team’s third round pick as the Titan’s defense is thought to be very solid, especially at that position, but the NFL team knew something we didn’t. Just three days after the end of the NFL Draft the Titans indicated they will not exercise their option for a fifth season on inside linebacker Rashaan Evan’s contract. Should the Titans pick up the option the move would cost the team $9.7-million. The former Alabama standout will now become an unrestricted free agent.
Over the past two seasons, Evans has started every Tennessee game playing 80-percent of snaps in 2020.
Titan’s general manager Jon Robinson said of Rice, “He’ll come in and compete at inside linebacker and on special teams. Based on information I got from Georgia, he is a consummate worker, loves football, works hard, leader, and vocal, all of those things were positive in his favor.”
According to Georgia head coach Kirby Smart, Rice is, “A businessman. He’s very serious about what he does. He’s got a purpose about him.”
Rice was a star player for the Jets under head coach Wade Waldrop and was an extremely versatile athlete on special teams, as well. He played in the youth basketball league in basketball where his team, the Cavaliers, finished 13-0 and won the age division title in his final season of the sport in Madison.
In his experience with college recruiters, Rice was offered by many of the top programs in the country and actually committed to LSU, but changed his mind at the last minute to sign with Georgia. Overall, he had up to 20 offers before making that final decision to become a Bulldog. He made an impact on the SEC East Division team as a freshman playing in 14 of Georgia’s 15 games.
His high school years began at St. John Paull II private school before moving to James Clemens in his sophomore season where he lived with a different family than his. As a freshman, Rice suffered a broken leg and dislocated knee. At James Clemens, he was part of the “Big Three” for the Jets alongside two other highly recruited players in LaBryan Ray and Kyriq McDonald, both of whom signed with Alabama.