Knights in the NFL: Ray Rice

NEW YORK — Rutgers legend Ray Rice was one of the main attractions Tuesday night at Brian Leonard's "Rally at the Alley." The Baltimore Ravens starting running back and Rutgers record holder held court with reporters to talk everything from Kyle Flood to Mohamed Sanu.

NEW YORK — Ray Rice has seen all sorts of former teammates in the NFL line up across him, but the weirdest connection, he said, will be the day sometime in the future when the Baltimore Ravens play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Blossoming into a superstar and Heisman Trophy candidate under Greg Schiano at Rutgers, Rice may have to go against his former mentor in the NFL.

"I'll have to let it out before the game," Rice said on a theoretical matchup. "I'll have to give him a big hug and tell him I love him. I won't do any trash talking. ... Every great coach knows there's a mutual respect. It will probably be in his game plan saying ‘we can't let Ray Rice beat us.' I know he's a fair guy. We don't have to worry about any bounty stuff with Coach Schiano."

Entering his fifth season in the NFL, Rice went from splitting carries in the Ravens backfield to perhaps the most feared dual-threat running back in the league.

Rice is a two-time All-Pro with 29 career touchdowns, but what impresses him most is the way Rutgers players as a unit have paved their way in the NFL.

"As I reflect on it, look at the class and the guys I played with and how many of us are in the NFL," Rice said. "It's kind of weird now because I have to play against them now. I have to see [Devin McCourty] when we play against the Patriots and I played against [Jason McCourty] this year and Kenny Britt. I played against these guys. I'm a competitor, so you have to put your ego down a bit and always know that these guys are my buddies off the field. It's amazing.

"If I'm not mistaken, when our class came in, people were a little big skeptical of our class and the majority of us are in the NFL right now."

The Knights in the NFL ranks will get stronger next month where at least three Rutgers players are expected to hear their name called in the NFL Draft.

Highlighted by Mohamed Sanu, who followed Rice, Anthony Davis and Kenny Britt in leaving after three seasons, Rice is excited about the Rutgers draft class.

When Rice went through the process in 2008, scouts criticized him for the same things Sanu faces now — speed.

"They came out saying I was going to run a 4.6 and I ran a 4.42," Rice said. "It helped me. For him it won't matter. He's a ball player. You see the arms on that guy? He's going to knock somebody right over the head when he gets it. ... If you came into the NFL as the perfect guy, what more would you have to work on when you got to the league? If I was him and I was in his shoes, I would take all the negatives, what everybody had to say against me and turn it into a positive."

Rice, who visited Rutgers for Pro Day and the spring game last year, said he is excited for the future of Rutgers football. Understanding Schiano's need to move on, Rice said Kyle Flood is the right man to take Rutgers to the next level.

"Coach Flood is the man," Rice said. "He was the offensive line coach when I was there. He really was a facilitator for everybody. He's a guy that you could talk to. The guys are going to love him. They do already. But Rutgers is home for him. I'm glad we kept everything in-house because Coach Schiano did a great job. Everybody has a time and point where they say ‘it was my time to go.' I think he went out on top and I know Coach Flood will do a great job carrying the torch."

More from Rice

On Brian Leonard's Rally at the Ally "Especially with Brian being my ex-teammate, my brother. I'm never going to forget the times we had at Rutgers. It's a small token of appreciation to come out and support him when he does these kinds of things."

On Goals for Next Season "As a running back, I think every year I'm polishing my game. This year I did it on the goal line. I proved that I can get in down there. This year I think I just want to expand more on the explosive runs. I did great last year with them. And continue to be an all-purpose back. ... You have to respect me for all three downs and maybe fourth down if I ever get it."

On if He is Wearing Down "Nah I'm young. I'm 25. I got in the league early. You see the way we had our system set up. Not one back can do it all, so me having Ricky Williams, the load in the NFL is different. It's not like the load I had in college. The load I'm getting in the NFL, if I need a break on first or second down, I'm taking myself out and be ready for third down. The load is different. I have a great backup in Ricky Williams, so we'll see what happens when [free agency] shakes out."

Advice for Rutgers Players at Pro Day "It's a showcase. That's what it is. You're performing for 32 NFL teams, so it's a showcase. You have to be ready for the showcase. I like to call it a one-shot deal. What you do out there at that pro day, 32 NFL teams are going to see and that's what's on paper on top of your film. So give it your best shot, take care out of your body and go out there and let it fly."

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