Utah State Football: Justin Rice is MWwire’s 2021 Preseason Newcomer of the Year
The Aggies linebacker is a familiar face, but he’s still our staff’s pick as Mountain West football’s newcomer of the year.
Back as if he never left.
Mountain West Wire’s 2021 preseason honors:
All-Conference Teams | Offensive Player of the Year | Defensive Player of the Year | Special Teams Player of the Year | Freshmen of the Year | Newcomer of the Year | Coach of the Year | Coordinator of the Year
In a quirk that only the 2021 football season could provide, Utah State linebacker Justin Rice became our staff’s pick as Mountain West football’s preseason newcomer of the year.
If you’re wondering why that’s so strange, recall that at this time a year ago, Rice was a member of the Fresno State Bulldogs and, at the Mountain West’s media summit last July, earned the nod as preseason defensive player of the year. When COVID-19 forced the temporary cancelation of the Mountain West football season, he elected to transfer to Arkansas State.
That’s how, after picking up 112 tackles, eight tackles for loss, three sacks and eight passes defended in 2019, Rice went bonkers for the Red Wolves in the Sun Belt instead. Last season, he led Arkansas State with 76 tackles and seven sacks while pacing the entire conference with 18.5 tackles for loss.
In following new Aggies head coach Blake Anderson from Jonesboro to Logan, Rice will have every opportunity to reintroduce himself to offenses across the Mountain West. They might just not look forward to it.
ArkSt LB Justin Rice (fmr Fres St) does just about everything: goal-line stops, tackles in coverage, attacking the QB trying to make a play outside the pocket. At minimum, he'll be a special teamer and versatile reserve NFL LB. #SnapScout21 pic.twitter.com/RaKeeqHDXW
— Chad Reuter (@chad_reuter) December 15, 2020