Rutgers has been the benefit of some good fortune in landing Raymell Rice. It was the release of the Syracuse Head Coach that soured Rice on the Orange. And Rutgers was right there to pick up the pieces.
"I just felt that when Coach Pasqualoni got fired that he wasn't given the chance to turn that thing around," stated Rice.
As one would expect, security as part of the Orange's incoming class was not taken for granted. The Orange commitments were left wondering and eventually searching for possible alternatives.
"Coach Schiano contacted me. I don't know what weekend it was, maybe some time in January. I decided to come down to the school for an unofficial visit. I came down and I had a great conversation with Coach Schiano. I was talking to [Glenn] Lee and he was just telling me how everything was all about 'family' down here."
"I had to see it for myself," continued the newest Scarlet Knight record-setter.
"Me, my mother and my high school coach thought it was the best decision for me [to come to Rutgers]. Of course, the way things are going now, I'm getting a lot of positive feedback."
Much of that feedback wasn't, as surprising as it may seem, overwhelmingly negative, when Rice decided to select the Scarlet Knights over Syracuse. Rice stated that his decision had to be the best one for him, and everyone had to understand that.
"My expectations when I came here were just to fit in. And it's all just worked out so well."
Everything, from solidifying the starting TB job mid-way through pre-season camp, to winning a few early ballgames, to securing a victory at the Orangedome.
"It was a great feeling playing in the Orangedome. I mean, I've played there before, in the state championships, and it brought back so many memories for me," continued Rice.
And now the focus turns to this week, a contest that has special meaning for Rutgers, trying to secure a winning season for the first time since ...
"I can say that we're going to be prepared. We know that our home fan support helps us out a lot. I think if we hold on to the ball and score some points, we have a good chance to win."
But Rice was not quick to dismiss Navy.
"They are a very good team. It will be a tough game."
While Rice couldn't guarantee another 200-yard+ performance this week, he did state that he has taken on an entirely new focus the last couple of weeks.
Starting with his hard work in practice.
"My motivation is to just get better and better. I know what hard work means and you'll see a more determined runner in me."
The key to this newly found determination?
"I always have to break the first tackle. It's just the drive that I have to have to be a good running back. It's a dream come true when you work hard and when you're excelling with your teammates and family, it's a great feeling."