Georgia added the 23rd member of its highly regarded recruiting class Monday.
It was just supposed to happen back on Dec. 12.
Monty Rice, a 3-star linebacker from James Clemens High School in Alabama, gave Georgia his final official visit last month before he abruptly committed to LSU.
The news was especially shocking given that Rice told DawgNation afterward that he had been a silent commitment to Georgia.
The nation’s No. 21 ILB adds to a stunning surge of recruiting momentum for Georgia. The Bulldogs have picked up three commitments over the last 24 hours and seven pledges dating back to Dec. 1.
As first reported by Chad Simmons of Scout.com, the 6-foot-1, 227-pound Rice is expected to move to Athens today.
His decision should be viewed as a landmark of sorts for Kirby Smart and the Georgia staff. Rice becomes the first prospect from the state of Alabama who he’s lured to Georgia.
Smart and assistant coach Glenn Schumann have been recruiting Rice since their time on the coaching staff at Alabama.
Georgia beat out LSU over the last month in a head-to-head battle for Rice.
Smart’s relationship with Rice during his time at Alabama ultimately helped the Bulldogs pull him out of state away from the Tigers.
The next step will be doing the same thing in a battle with Alabama. That will be quite a feat. Rice did not have a committable offer from Alabama on the table.
He’s now the fourth linebacker on the board for Georgia in this class. The Bulldogs are expected to sign up to six linebackers this year. Rice is the second pure inside linebacker to choose UGA along with Nate McBride.
The fact that he will enroll early makes him a serious candidate to earn playing time in 2017.
James Clemens coach Wade Waldrop summarized what Rice can bring to Georgia.
“There are a lot of great athletes out there playing football and a lot of guys at the next level who are just tremendous athletes that anybody would want in their program,” Waldrop said earlier this season. “But that’s not Monty. He’s a football player. He’s a football player that is a great athlete. I think that’s his biggest attribute. This is not a guy that’s coming from another sport trying to convert. This guy’s instincts are all football. He’s tough, intelligent and driven. He’s why I love coaching. I’d love to continue coaching him. He’s just the type of guy who makes it easy to come work, coach and teach football because he just loves it and eats it up.”
The James Clemens standout adds to the list of January enrollees at Georgia. That roll call includes 4-star QB Jake Fromm, 4-star S DeAngelo Gibbs, 4-star WR Jeremiah Holloman, and 5-star S Richard LeCounte III. Junior college OT signee D’Marcus Hayes is also joining the roster this month.
Rice led the Jets with 137 tackles and four interceptions. Those numbers stand out, but the four touchdowns he scored on defense illustrate what type of playmaker he can be.