Western NY athlete combines strength and speed

The state of New York is loaded with some very special talent in the Class of 2005, and one western NY athlete is making sure everybody knows that he is one of the special ones.<br><br> Raymell Rice from New Rochelle (NY) HS is a 5'9" 190 pound dynamo who does everything for the Class AA reigning state champions.

Blessed with 4.4 speed, amazingly quick feet, superior athleticism (36" vertical), and excellent strength (295 bench and 430 squat), Rice was Class AA 1st Team All-State, as well as the Class AA co-player of the year. On the season, he ran for 1,332 yards and 11 touchdowns, led the team in receiving yardage with 208 yards and 5 TD's (on only 8 catches), and kicked 30 extra points, totaling 129 points on offense.

And Rice knows how to play big in the big game, too. He was the Offensive MVP for the first two games of New Rochelle's playoff season, and in the third he was named the Most Valuable Offensive Back in a 32-6 victory over top-rated Webster-Schroeder at the Carrier Dome. In that game, all he did was run for 169 yards on 17 carries (9.8 avg), catch a pass, punt once for 35 yards, make two tackles, return three punts, and kick two extra points. If Ray Rice wasn't on the map before the playoffs, he sure was after his dominating playoff performance.

On defense, Rice plays safety and is considered a vicious hitter. At the next level, he could be a safety, a cornerback, or a running back, but Rice says he wants to be a running back and thinks most schools will recruit him as such.

The home state Orangemen recently was the first school to offer Rice, but many more will surely follow. He says that Alabama, Wisconsin, Maryland, and Boston College are all sending a lot of letters, and Pittsburgh just requested tape of him. His favorite team growing up was North Carolina and he has a cousin that attends there, but he hasn't heard much from them. As it stands now, Rice has one school that stands out.

"Syracuse is my favorite right now," says Rice. And when asked if staying close to home is important, he says, "In a way it is. I would like to stay close to the area if I can so that my mother can watch me play."

Rice's mother, Janet, has been a major help in the recruiting process, according to Rice. "She has really helped me sort through all of this. She has been my backbone."

Rice, who currently has a 2.9 GPA, plans to attend the Nike camp at Penn State in May.

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