Calhoun, Ga.--While quarterback and defensive line are obvious need areas for the Auburn Tigers in the 2016 football recruiting class, one of the most important recruits for Gus Malzahn is big tight end Landon Rice.
With just two players on campus in redshirt freshman Chris Laye and true freshman Jalen Harris, Auburn’s tight ends didn’t have a single reception this season after having guys like Philip Lutzenkirchen and C.J. Uzomah as reliable red zone targets for the Tigers in recent years.
Now preparing to head to Auburn next month after a very strong senior season, the 6-5, 255 Rice said he’s ready to get his career started after two long years of being committed.
“This is a long time coming,” Rice said. “I have been committed for a long time now. I’m just finally ready for it to be my day. I’m excited about that. On January 11th I’ll be in my dorm at Auburn and start classes on the 13th. It’s showtime now and I’m ready to get down there and get to work.”
With his older brother Logan Rice currently a walk-on with the Tigers and with his longtime commitment to Auburn, Rice said for him this has been such a long time coming that it almost doesn’t seem real.
“It’s going to be weird being on the team now after being a recruit for so long and going down there and wearing a lanyard that says ‘recruit Landon Rice’,” he said. “To actually put on the pads, I’m ready and excited for that. It’s a long time coming.
“It was kind of boring sitting on the sidelines for two years watching the games. I’m ready to strap it up and contribute to the team.”
Landon Rice has been a fixture at Auburn for the last two years.
Always a physical player who also excels as a defensive lineman, Rice has really developed his game as a tight end and that’s good news for the Tigers. With the size to get the job done as an edge blocker and the hands to become a threat in the passing game, Rice said for him the goal is to come in and give it his best shot.
“The door is wide open,” Rice said. “You’ve got Jalen and Chris Laye and they are working their tails off, but right now it sounds like the door is pretty much wide open. I’m going to get the opportunity to show my skills and if I can do it a starting position is open for me to take.
“That just fires me up. There’s no time for play when I get down there. I just have to go down there and work and focus on the playbook and work real hard in the weight room and on conditioning and speed and ability. It’s not going to be easy.
“I’m going to have to block guys like Carl Lawson and some of those guys. They are grown men, it’s not high school football anymore. I have to be ready and put myself in a good spot. I’m fired up and ready for it.”
Rice is one of a group players who have already signed with Auburn in the early period and plan to enroll in January. The others are quarterback John Franklin, running back Malik Miller, defensive linemen Marlon Davidson and Paul James, linebacker Tre Threat and defensive back John Broussard. Wide receiver Kyle Davis is expected to sign with the Tigers perhaps as early as Thursday with defensive tackle Antwuan Jackson announcing his decision on Thursday as well.