Almost an Orange Man

Rutgers running back Ray Rice almost ended up playing for this weekend's opponent, Syracuse. Rice is a product of New Rochelle High School in New York. His recruiting process happened at the same time as his high school and college teammate, that of defensive back Glen Lee.

Originally, Rice had verbally committed to then Orange Head Coach Paul Pasqualoni. However, before signing day, Syracuse made a coaching change and this left Rice wondering where he desired to take his talents.

With Coach Pasqualoni out, Rice reopened his recruiting and began to look at other schools. He initially commented on his thoughts about the coaching change in a 2005 article that ran on StateofRutgers.com.

"You know, what happened at Syracuse, that was not good," Rice said at the time. "When I committed to Syracuse, I committed to Coach Pasqualoni and what happened to him made me feel really bad."

One school's bad luck was another's great fortune. Rutgers Head Coach Greg Schiano was very happy to be able to get a shot at Rice once the decision to re-evaluate his recruiting process took place. For Coach Schiano, he is happy he was able to bring Rice to New Jersey.

"He is one of the elite running backs in the country," Coach Schiano said. "He is a great person and a great leader and a great kid. It has been a big shot in the arm for our program."

Rice was impressed as well by Coach Schiano the first time the two met. Coach Schiano went out of his way to make both Rice and his mother feel very welcome.

"What impressed me about Coach Schiano was how much of a family man he is," Rice said. "Just bringing my mom, cause I remember my mom was enthusiastic. For him to take my mom and embrace her and make her feel welcome really got me."

Currently, Rice is the nation's 11th leading rusher in yards per game with 124.4. Last season, he gained 1794 net yards on the year with 20 touchdowns. The junior running back could spend another year at Rutgers, but he has the option of declaring for the NFL Draft next spring.

Rice is happy to have seen some of the biggest steps that Rutgers has taken in Coach Schiano's plan to bring the Scarlet Knights to be a national power.

"I'm glad I played a part in that," Rice said. "There is still more to it, that is the fun part. I still have a lot of football left in me here at Rutgers. I think that is the most exciting part. Regardless of what happens, I just wake up every morning and realize how glad I am to be apart of the Rutgers program."

Rice is a great athlete that started at point guard on the New Rochelle High School basketball team. With backup running back Kordell Young, Rice has to take most of the load of this season. The only other running back besides Young and Rice to carry the ball is freshman Mason Robinson, who has carried the ball a total of nine times.

Besides being good on the field, Rice was happy that he went to a university that was interested in helping their student's succeed in the classroom.

"When I researched the area and seen the academic support we have here, along with the athletic support and the weight room, everything just impressed me," Rice said. "Everything was first class."

Rice tries not to look back and think what might have happened had he gone to Syracuse instead, rather he is just grateful he has been as successful as he has been so far in his Rutgers career.

"My life could have been different up there or it could have been the same success wise," Rice said. "But I am here now and doing the things closer to home to my family. It just feels great."


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