2011 Intro: Denzel Rice

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. --- Denzel Rice will almost never leave the field for Carver High next season.

"He got some breaks last year, but he won't this year," Carver head football coach Brent David said. "He's going to play four quarters this year… I like to give other kids the opportunity [to play], but at the same time [Rice] is just a special kid."

Last season, Rice started on offense, while also seeing reps on defense and handling punts, kickoffs, field goals, and all return duties. This season the 6-foot, 170-pounder will continue that workload but he'll also start and see almost every snap on defense.

"I'm used to it," Rice said. "I've been doing it since Pop Warner."

"He's just an athlete," David said. "He can do anything you ask him to do."

Depending on the opponent, Rice will start at either cornerback or safety. Throughout the course of a game, however, he will line up anywhere in the back seven.

"I played him at outside ‘backer and he had three or four sacks [last] year just coming off the edge making things happen," David said.

Carver had a three-year starter at quarterback last season. Thus, Rice primarily played wide receiver. That quarterback, though, has since graduated.

"Denzel is in a tough situation," David said. "He's the best quarterback we have and he's the best wide receiver we have. And he can't throw it to himself."

David's solution: Rice will split time at wide receiver and quarterback at a 60-40 ratio.

"I think his more natural position is wide receiver, so right now we're trying to groom a kid to work at the quarterback position to get [Rice] the football," David said. "But he'll be playing some quarterback this year – running zone-reads and some option stuff. He'll be a ‘wildcat' guy for us."

But don't sleep on Rice as a passer.

"He can throw it as well," David said. "But when he's at quarterback, we have to find somebody to throw it to."

Rice has attracted early recruiting attention from Clemson, North Carolina, NC State, and Wake Forest.

"Denzel hasn't had the exposure – as of yet," David said. "He's going to make some combines this spring and some one-day camps this summer, because I want everybody to see the talent that this kid has."

Rice isn't sure what camps he'll attend this summer, but he plans on working out at the upcoming Nike and Shrine Bowl combines.

North Carolina is recruiting Rice the hardest. UNC is also the lone school to see Rice work out in-person.

"Carolina saw him last summer at the seven-on-seven [camp] and they were extremely impressed and ever since then they've been on him," David said.

Throughout the camp, Rice's play slowly drew a crowd of UNC coaches.

"When it got to the semifinals, I started to notice more coaches were watching me," Rice said.

At one point, Allen Mogridge, who recruits the Winston-Salem area for UNC, pulled Rice aside.

"He was just talking about how I need to stay in the weight room, how I needed to keep my grades up, and how I need to make more visits to [UNC's] campus," Rice said.

Most schools are recruiting Rice as an "athlete" and is being projected as both a wide receiver and cornerback.

David believes wide receiver is Rice's best fit on the collegiate level.

"He reads great, he has great vision, very explosive, athletic, good speed," David said. "He has great hands and he has great ball skills… He's a tough kid – he was raised tough – and he's coming from a football family."

Both Rice's father and grandfather played football in college.

A couple of weekends back, Rice attended a junior day at Clemson. He's scheduled to attend UNC's Junior Day on March 27. He also plans to visit NC State sometime this spring.

Rice isn't favoring any schools.

"I've thought about it, but it hasn't really occurred to me that I'm being recruited," Rice said.

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