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2021 NFL Draft Prospect: Justin Rice, LB, Fresno State University

Justin Rice Fresno State
When I break down film on Justin Rice the lean and mean linebacker from Fresno State I get excited. He hits the hole like a running back.

With the State of California being funny with the entire coronavirus, we are hoping that Fresno State and the other major schools in California will be able to play this upcoming season. I wanted to focus on a player that really stuck out on film when I was breaking down another player from Fresno State last year.

The player I was watching on film just so happened to be Justin Rice’s older brother Jared. When watching the film, there was a linebacker #29 that was sticking out. His motor was relentless and he was a tackling machine, but get this he has great size too. Let’s break down Justin Rice!

Justin Rice was a beast running back in high school

Justin Rice was a two time Offensive MVP, did you read that correctly? Yep, he was a beast as a running back. He rushed for a school record 2,698 yards his senior year scoring 32 touchdowns.

The crazy thing is you can see his athleticism in the film. Rice ran for 4,845 yards in high school scoring 62 touchdowns on just 444 yards per carry. That is 10.9 yards a carry, are you kidding me? This kid is a freak of an athlete, especially when you add in his 51 receptions for 819 yards and three receiving touchdowns.

Well, he would land a deal to go to Fresno State and was excited to get working. He would suffer a foot injury in the fall that would limit him to just five games on the season. He barely touched the ball his Freshman year.

Things changed his Sophomore year, he transitioned to the opposite side of the ball, and he played in 10 games. He ended up with 9 tackles and 2 tackles for loss.

As a junior he would compete in four games which allowed him to pick up an additional year as a red-shirt.

As a red-shirt Junior though Rice balled out, earning First Team All-Mountain West linebacker. The transition worked well, so whoever thought of that move is a genius. Justin Rice crushed the Mountain West, starting all twelve games. He finished fourth in the entire NCAA with four forced fumbles, and led the team with 112 tackles and 65 solo tackles.

In 2020, I expect a monster year from Rice. His brother Jared signed with the Los Angeles Chargers after going undrafted, and I think this will motivate the younger brother Justin. Everyone will always tell you the younger sibling is always the better athlete, because the older athlete paved the way.

NFL Draft Diamonds Scouting Notes:

You can just turn on the film and see that Justin Rice was an offensive player. His ability to shoot a gap remind me of a running back. Rice takes great angles and has amazing anticipation. Justin’s motor and heart are not an issue, he may have to add a few pounds though. The 6020, 225 pound backer is explosive. He will punch you in the mouth, and as long as he can stay healthy he will be on an NFL roster next year. – Damond Talbot, NFL Draft Diamonds Owner.


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