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Utah State football gets another transfer from Arkansas State. This one was once a top MWC player

Nevada quarterback Carson Strong is tackled by Fresno State linebacker Justin Rice during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Fresno, Calif., Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019.
Gary Kazanjian, Associated Press

The Utah State Aggies on Saturday received a commitment from a third player who is following new head coach Blake Anderson to Logan from Arkansas State, but that’s not the only connection linebacker Justin Rice will have to his new home.

For the first few years of his collegiate career, Rice starred at Fresno State before transferring to ASU, meaning he’ll be returning to the Mountain West Conference.

Rice acknowledged such in his announcement Saturday, writing, “I’m baacckkkk!! @MountainWest”

How good was Rice at Fresno State? He garnered first team MWC honors in 2019 and was named the conference’s preseason Defensive Player of the Year in 2020 before transferring late to Arkansas State when it appeared as though the MWC wouldn’t play in the fall.

Then in his lone season at Arkansas State, the 6-foot-2, 225-pound Rice tallied 76 tackles, 18.5 of which went for a loss, which led the entire NCAA. He also totaled seven sacks and garnered first team honors from the Sun Belt Conference.

Rice was supposed to be a graduate transfer in 2020, but the native of Modesto, California, still has one final year of eligibility remaining because of the NCAA’s decision to grant all players an extra year due to the pandemic.

He joins quarterback Logan Bonner and receiver Brandon Bowling as former Arkansas State players who have committed to the Aggies.