Justin Rice forgoes senior season and enters transfer portal

Fresno State linebacker Justin Rice recovers and scores a touchdown during a home victory against the University of Nevada Las Vegas at Bulldog Stadium on Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. (Larry Valenzuela/The Collegian)

Mountain West (MW) preseason Defensive Player of the Year Justin Rice has forgone his senior season as Fresno State and is entering the transfer portal.

The 6-foot-2, 225 running back turned linebacker announced his decision Friday morning in a letter to “friends and family of Fresno State Football.” Rice cited the COVID-19 pandemic led to his decision to enter the transfer portal as he wishes to “chase his dreams by having the opportunity to play football this fall.”

As Rice enters the portal, he will essentially become a free agent, and any schools that are still playing football this fall can begin contacting him.

This offseason, Rice was the only Bulldog to make the preseason All-MW team. He was also named preseason MW Defensive Player of the Year and added to watchlists for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Chuck Bednarik Award.

Rice was also the only Bulldog to have a first-team selection in the annual Phil Steele Magazine.

In his first full season as a linebacker last season, Rice was selected as a first-team All-MW linebacker. He also led the Bulldogs’ in tackles, was third in the MW for tackles, tied for fourth in the NCAA with four forced fumbles and ranked No. 5 in forced fumbles per game.

Fresno State football head coach Kalen Deboer said he appreciates Rice’s contributions to the team during his time.

“We appreciate everything Justin did for Bulldog football during his time here,” DeBoer said. “We support his decision and wish him well in his future endeavors.”

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