2020 Mountain West Football Top 50 Players: #26, Fresno State LB Justin Rice
The Fresno State linebacker is the first Bulldog named to our annual list of the conference’s best athletes.
An all-around playmaker.
The media’s pick for preseason defensive player of the year is the next entry on our countdown of the Mountain West Conference’s best football players in 2020.
If Fresno State linebacker Justin Rice’s emergence in a field of talented defenders came as a surprise, you might have looked past what he actually accomplished even while the team had an uneven 2019. He finished third in the conference with 112 total tackles and, more importantly, proved he could be a disruptive playmaker by tallying three sacks, eight tackles for loss, eight passes defended, two interceptions and four forced fumbles. In other words, offenses needed to be careful with the ball if Rice was in the vicinity.
With a full season under his belt, Rice will anchor a retooled Bulldogs defense that hopes to rebound from last year’s decline. If he’s anywhere near as dynamic as he was last fall, that’ll be a good start.