Is it Curtis Time?

With the announcement that Marcus Howard will now play football for the Georgia Bulldogs, now seems like a great time to take a hard look at some of the other top linebackers out there. The first name that should come to most people's mind is none other than Union's Curtis Rice.

Curtis Rice put together a phenomenal season this year for the Union High Yellow Jackets. He helped lead his team to the state championship and also put together some outstanding statistics along the way.

"We had a lot of people step up this year on defense," said Rice in regards to the Jackets' state championship run. "I had a pretty good year with 101 tackles, 15 sacks, 37 tackles for loss, 1 interception, and 2 fumble recoveries."

Rice also combines a 6-3, 209-pound frame with legitimate 4.51 speed.
"Clemson wants me as a linebacker, an outside linebacker. I think that's where most schools want me and that's my preference anyway," added Rice.

LB Curtis Rice
So here lies the question of the day: why has Curtis Rice not been offered a formal scholarship? He has potential, and even though most experts agree that he'll need to continue to develop his skills at the next level, the general consensus is that he's a legitimate Division I-A college football player.

"I said it to a college coach this week that if someone doesn't recruit Curtis Rice, I don't know how much they know about football," Union defensive coordinator Wayne Bell told the Spartanburg Herald Journal in an interview back in December. "He's a heck of a player and he's going to be a big-time Division I prospect and I hope one of our two in-state schools take a chance on him."

When you break it all down, Rice has comparable numbers to that of a Marcus Howard. Howard is 6-2, 205, and runs the 40 in 4.4 seconds. Rice is 6-3, 209, and runs the 40 in 4.51 seconds.

While Howard clearly has the edge in the speed department, Rice isn't too shabby coming in at 4.51 in the 40. If anything, his long stride on the field almost makes it look like it takes little effort for him to get the job done.

And then there's the fact that he plays football with one of the nation's top offensive linemen in Eric Young. Young and Rice are good friends, and both are obviously being recruited by Clemson. An offer to Curtis could certainly not hamper the recruitment of Eric Young.

Even still, Rice is bonafide prospect himself, and with Howard now out of the picture, the possibility of Curtis becoming a serious candidate to pick up a scholarship offer is gaining momentum.

Whether that actually happens or not, is not yet known. That's why coaches like Tommy Bowden and Rick Stockstill get paid the salaries they do- to make decisions like this.

For Rice, his visit this past weekend went well, as he was hosted by former Union running back Kyle Browning. However, he is still remaining open, and with an impending visit to Columbia coming up, anything is still possible.

The senior linebacker has maintained all along that an offer from Clemson seemed to be on the horizon. "I guess it's mainly a hunch," said Rice in a recent interview with "Coach Stock has been calling me a lot through the last couple of months."

Time will only tell what happens with the Tigers' situation at linebacker this year, but only one thing can be said with certainty at this point in the game.

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