Tony Walsh / UGA Sports

WATCH: Monty Rice shares how Kirby Smart leads, Georgia football improves

ATHENS — Georgia’s start to spring football has Monty Rice’s blood flowing, the two-year team captain longing to be back out on the field with his former teammates.

Instead, Rice said, he has what amounts to a “million-dollar interview” coming up on Wednesday when UGA holds its “Pro Day” workout with some NFL personnel expected in attendance.

But for the 2021 Bulldogs taking part in the first of 15 spring practice sessions, Rice said improvement is essentially inevitable.

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“You come to Georgia, you have no choice but to get better, or you can’t hang,” Rice, a Butkus Award Finalist, said on the Ingles On The Beat Show on Monday. “Because there’s too many good players out there, even the walk-ons.”

Rice was hand-picked by Coach Kirby Smart for his leadership role, likely because the two carry the same sort of passion for the game and can understand one another.

Smart is known to be vocally aggressive in his coaching, his voice booming out over the speakers as he motivates, corrects, identifies and motivates his players some more.

“That’s one dude that brings it every day — I don’t care if it’s 130 degrees out there, Coach Smart is going to be out there yelling,” Rice said. “ At the end of the day, he not only wants what’s best for Georgia, he wants what is best for you, and he wants to bring the best out of everybody.

“That’s how you keep a good culture.”

Rice said Smart’s background as a former All-SEC safety at Georgia helps, but even beyond that, the players know what he’s all about.

“First off, if you’ve been around him you can tell he loves the game, and you respect that,” Rice said. “I’m here to tell you, Coach Smart isn’t just collecting a paycheck, he works his ass off.

“When he talks football, it ain’t no bull ….  he means every word he says.”

Rice also shared the story of why he flipped from LSU to Georgia at the last minute during recruiting.

“LSU would have been a great fit, but I’m going to be honest, I didn’t think Coach O was going to be that good of a head coach,” Rice said.

“Either he proved me wrong, or he had Joe Burrow, one of the two.”

Rice also gave his take on the Florida rivalry.

“If you ask me, it’s a home game for them every year, because it’s right down the street for them from where they go to school, and it’s a 5-hour drive from Athens. It really isn’t fair.

“I think it would be special for the rivalry to be home and home, just to bring recruits there. You can’t bring recruits to the one in Jacksonville.”

Indeed, while recruits could be eligible for passes, there’s no time for them to visit with coaches, players and obviously not see the campus.

“I’m sure if you are recruits, you want to go to the Georgia-Florida game because that’s the biggest one,” Rice said. “I think it should go home-and-home.

“Alabama and Auburn are home and home, I don’t understand why we can’t be home and home.”

Rice has one final performance in his home in Athens at the Wednesday Pro Day. There’s been a lot of work that has gone into recovering from a foot injury that occurred the week of the Alabama game last October and required treatment each day.

But for Rice, it was all about playing out the 10-game regular-season with his coaches and teammates and being the best player for the Bulldogs he could be.

“You’re going to go against the best here,” Rice said. “You get better every day here.”

Rice also shared his thoughts on the 2021 team and certain players fans should be on the lookout for in the Ingles On the Beat video show.

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