Auburn’s first commitment for the 2016 class, the 6-5 1/2, 250 Rice has been solidly pledged to the Tigers since his sophomore year and hasn’t backed off that despite attention from schools all over the country. With older brother Logan Rice a walk-on with the Tigers and with an already strong relationship with the coaches and players on the team, Rice said this weekend is one he’s really looking forward to when he visits the AU campus again.
“I’m ready to get back down to Auburn and hang out with the coaches,” he said. “I love going down to Auburn in the spring time because it’s so beautiful. The campus is in full bloom and everybody is kind of laid back, a lot of the students are gone and my brother is down there so I get to see him for the weekend.
“The coaches are saying it’s going to be a great time, they have little games and activities we’re going to do. There are going to be some big-time recruits down there and I’m sure you know some names that are going to be down there. I’m just really excited to get back down there.”
A talented tight end who should help early on offense for Auburn in 2016, Rice said he is looking forward to turning into a recruiter for the Tiger this weekend with quarterback Jawon Pass one of the guys he will focus on. With the quarterback a huge part of any class, Rice said that is something that just puts everything else into place when you add that piece of the puzzle.
“I already know that we need a quarterback, we need to go ahead and lock down a quarterback because that will help us with other guys on the offensive side of the ball,” Rice said. “A lot of guys look to see what schools already have a quarterback committed and if you’re playing receiver or something like that it’s important.”
Those things didn’t matter to Rice when he chose Auburn way back in November of 2013. Unconcerned about who his quarterback would be or even who his teammates would be, Rice chose the Tigers because of his fit with the university and the coaching staff. Now two years later it has proven to be the right call for him with Auburn needing help at the tight end position in a big way.
“That’s a big part for me because when I committed I wasn’t really thinking about playing time because I did it so early,” Rice said. “Now looking at it, staying committed that was a big part for me to stay committed because looking you’ve got Chris Laye and a couple of other guys playing H-Back and stuff like that, but a lock down tight end, it’s just me and Jalen Harris and also Chris Laye. We complement each other and I feel like I can put my hand down and mash people inside and set the edge and I can also flex out.
“I feel like Jalen does it a little bit better job also with flexing out a little bit wider, but also I think I’ve got a little bit more beef on me so I feel like I can put my hand down and be a traditional tight end for Auburn. And that’s what they’re looking for, too, that’s what they’ve been telling me a lot. They’re saying if I was down there right now I would be on the field this year. It’s really good for me to know that I’m going to get the chance to play my freshman year.”
With the chance to add more guys to the 2016 class this weekend, Auburn will have one very strong supporter to help that cause in Rice. As solid as a commitment can be, he said everything about his decision still remains solid because of what he sees and feels from the coaches and players on the Plains.
“I feel like I’m already a part of Auburn you know,” Rice said. “My brother being there, I feel like the coaching staff, they’re my coaches but they are also like family to me and I talk to them more than once a week. Coach (Tim) Horton and Coach (Scott) Fountain and actually Coach Horton, Coach Fountain and Coach (Rhett) Lashlee all came to my spring practice. They stayed the whole time, talked to my dad after practice for like 45 minutes. It really showed their support for me so that was big. It’s really easy staying committed because I feel so close to them, they’re like family to me now.”