Scout Rating: ***
Scout Rank: #25 Weakside Linebacker
Size: 6-3, 205 pounds
Hometown: Eufaula, AL
High School: Eufaula High
Projected position at NCSU: Linebacker
Accolades: Ranked by ESPN as the No. 98 outside linebacker…Rivals.com ranks Rice as a three-star prospect…Alabama Football Magazine all-phenom team…Also plays basketball for Eufaula…while recruited for defense, Rice also got time at receiver and quarterback in high school....Recruited to NC State by assistant coach Andy McCollum.
Commit Date: 12/01/2008
Recruiting Scene: For a time things were pretty serious between Rice and Ole Miss, but his visit plans fell through and he never made the trip to Oxford. The Rebels and Wolfpack were clearly the top two schools on his list by the end of the recruiting process, though he had also picked up offers from Troy, Central Florida and Vanderbilt.
With Ole Miss seemingly off the board, Rice focused in on the Wolfpack and made his commitment official in early December. He was actually one of six players to commit to NC State in a four day span.
Why NCSU? "(Coach McCollum) was saying how they are recruiting me to play linebacker and safety. He said that next year I'd be in a battle for the safety spot because they may need that more next year, but as I get bigger I'd probably move to linebacker.
"The visit went real well. The hospitality I got was probably the best I've seen. When I first got there I got to see the Wolfpack statue and when I went back to the hotel I liked the fact that they had a big cake waiting on me."
ESPN Evaluation: Rice is far from polished fundamentally and still has much physical developing to do -- but it's hard not to see good upside in this kid as a football prospect. He can run, hit and is an aggressive linebacker prospect. Tall, rangy and his long, strong frame should explode with bulk once he attacks a college weight-training program. Lacks great reactive athleticism and a quick step to the football but shows good urgency and closing speed to the ball once he locates it.
Shows spurts on film where he fills hard and fast vertically. Scrapes well laterally. Did an adequate job on film utilizing his long arms keeping defenders off his body and stringing out the run to the sideline. Covers a lot of ground with his high-cut frame and elongated lower-body. Is an active pursuer. Displayed adequate hips, athleticism and redirection quickness pursuing in space. Raw in coverage technique but he showed the closing break and ability to blanket his underneath zone. However, at this time, Rice will be more of a project at the Division I level than a kid with ability to play early.
Tends to pursue very high, a bit stiff and his ability to mirror quicker skill players on the perimeter is a concern. Struggles breaking down on the ball carrier and needs to show quicker recovery ability when he overruns the play. Lunges, tackles high and lacks good explosiveness from his hips. Leverage and power at the point of attack is marginal. Flashes difficulty holding his base and knocking blockers upright. Overall, Rice flashes plays where you see great athleticism on a rangy frame that projects to pack on major bulk. His best football is definitely a head of him, and he could blossom at the college level if a program is patient with his development.
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