ATHENS — Georgia football has seen the last of captain Monty Rice in a Bulldogs football uniform, as he and transfer DJ Daniel are opting out of the bowl game per published reports.
UGASports.com broke the news that Rice, a three-year starter at middle linebacker and Butkus Award finalist, will not compete with his teammates in Georgia’s New Year’s Six Bowl game.
The No. 8-ranked Bulldogs (7-2) could end up playing Clemson in the Orange Bowl if Notre Dame upsets the Tigers in the ACC Championship Game on Saturday.
Should favored Clemson win, Georgia is projected to play in the Peach Bowl against Cincinnati if the favored Bearcats defeat Tulsa in the AAC Championship Game on Saturday.
Starting cornerbacks Eric Stokes and Tyson Campbell are both expected to declare themselves eligible for the NFL draft, but they have yet to announce whether they will play in a bowl game.
There had been speculation that many of the Bulldogs’ defenders might not represent Georgia in the bowl game on the heels of a disappointing season.
Georgia leads the nation in run defense, but the highly-touted secondary has been porous, allowing 474 yards passing in a 44-28 loss to Florida, 417 yards passing in a 41-24 loss to Alabama and 336 yards passing to Mississippi State.
It has been a difficult season for Rice, who ranks third on the team with 49 tackles, soldiering through a foot injury that has required treatment throughout the year.
Daniel started 11 games as a junior but lost his starting job when Campbell returned from injury. Daniel, who suffered an ankle injury in the offseason, did not play in the Alabama game and has just nine total tackles this season.
Dawgs247 reporters Jake Rowe and Rusty Mansell reported that team captain Richard LeCounte, who suffered injuries when he crashed an unregistered dirt bike on Halloween Night on Macon Highway, might also skip the final contest.
Coach Kirby Smart had previously said LeCounte had been practicing with the team in an effort to get back on the field.
Transfer tight end Tre’ McKitty and team captain and offensive guard Ben Cleveland might also reject playing in the game, per the 247 Georgia football website.
It has become a recent trend for Georgia team captains with NFL prospects to skip bowl games, going back to former team captain Deandre Baker pulling out of the Sugar Bowl two years ago.
Baker first said he was going to play, but he later changed his mind and merely accompanied the team to New Orleans to take part in the festivities with teammates and other friends.
Last year, permanent team captains Andrew Thomas and J.R. Reed skipped the Sugar Bowl trip, while the other two captains, Jake Fromm and D’Andre Swift, played in the game. Swift played despite an injured shoulder.
Smart has said he will support all of his players’ decisions, but last year he set a precedent not to bring players to the bowl site who are not playing in the game.
Smart has not commented on the status of any of his players, and he requested the media not to ask his players about their future playing status.