Justin Rice has returned to the Mountain West, though not with the team that you may expect. Rice will not be playing for Fresno State, the Mountain West team he was previously with. Instead, Justin Rice will join Utah State under new head coach Blake Anderson.
Rice spent three seasons with Fresno State from 2017-2019. In 2017, Rice registered nine tackles (six solo, three assists) and played in four games. In 2018, Rice posted four tackles (two solo, two assists), playing in two games. In 2019, Justin Rice had a breakout season, getting 112 tackles (65 solo, 47 assists) and also added three sacks, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, two interceptions, and eight pass deflections. He had huge games against UNLV and USC, making 10 tackles (eight solo, two assists), a fumble recovery, and forcing a fumble against the Rebels and making 10 tackles (four solo, six assists), a sack, a forced fumble, an interception, and two pass deflections. During Justin Rice’s first season at Arkansas State in 2020, he made 76 tackles (57 solo, 19 assists), seven sacks, and a pass deflection. Against Central Arkansas, Justin Rice made 12 tackles and three sacks.
Justin Rice will take advantage of the extra year of eligibility given to all players who want to take advantage of it. Utah State’s defense struggled this past season in giving up big plays but having an experienced player such as Justin Rice transfer to the team may help to solve some of those problems.