5:57 PM ET
Kyle BonaguraESPN Staff Writer
- Covers the Pac-12.
- Joined ESPN in 2014.
- Attended Washington State University.
Fresno StatelinebackerJustin Rice, the preseason defensive player of the year in the Mountain West Conference, announced Friday he would enter the transfer portal and search for a place he could play this fall as a graduate transfer.
The Mountain West announced Monday an indefinite postponement of fall sports, including football, due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.
“Unfortunately due to COVID-19, the college football landscape has been turned upside down,” Rice wrote in a note he tweeted. “I am so very grateful for the opportunity given to me to play football for Fresno State, but I am also grateful to be able to chase my dreams by having the opportunity to play football this fall.”
Rice was a first-team All-Mountain West selection last season after leading the Bulldogs with 112 tackles and four forced fumbles. He is on the preseason watch lists for the Chuck Bednarik Award and Bronko Nagurski Trophy.
As a graduate transfer, Rice would be eligible to play immediately at a new school, however it’s unclear what the landscape will look like for players wishing to transfer this close to the start of the season. Entering the portal does not require Rice to leave Fresno State, and if he doesn’t find a suitable landing spot — or if other conferences end up postponing their fall seasons — he would have the ability to remain with the team.