Profiling Ray Rice

Standing at barely 5'8 and 200 pounds, running back Ray Rice is neither the biggest nor the fastest back, but what he lacks in physical skills, he makes up with heart and desire. "Being small can be an advantage," said Rice at the NFL Combine. "Being small has a lot to do with the kind of heart you have. I run bigger than my size - I usually don't shy away from too much contact."

He had to overcome adversity, beginning at an early age, according to the New York Times. Rice, born in New Rochelle, New York, first experienced hardship when he was just one year old after his father was killed in a shooting. Just a few years later, his cousin died in a car accident.

However, as Rice grew up, he found a niche playing football. He starred at New Rochelle High School where he was named to Madison Square Garden's All-Heisman Team and he was also selected to the All-State First-Team.

From there, Rice went on to an illustrious college career at Rutgers University. Through just three years, he became the Scarlet Knights' all-time leading rusher with 4,926 career yards and 49 touchdowns. He is the first player in program history to rush over 1000 yards in three seasons and, this past year, he recorded over 2000 yards, a rare feat in college football.

More importantly, he was instrumental in the reemergence of the Rutgers football program which has played in bowl games the past two seasons.

Because of Rice's success at Rutgers, he received many accolades, including being tabbed as a two-time All-America second-team honoree as well as being a 2007 Doak Walker finalist (the nation's top college football running back). Despite the numerous records and honors, Rice always remains humble and is the consummate team player.

"I'm going to do whatever it takes obviously to be the best I can be at the next level," said Rice at the Combine. "If that's running the ball, passing, catching, then I'm going to do it. And even special teams, kick returns." Since Rice is small in stature, but played big in college, many experts compare him to second-year NFL back Maurice Jones-Drew, who is known for the same traits. And that is precisely one of the players he singled out at the Combine.

"I definitely like to watch Maurice Jones-Drew," said Rice. "He's the perfect example right now…He uses his size as an advantage with his power, he's compact, and with what he brings to the table, it's special."

Even though the Baltimore Ravens had other more pressing needs on the roster, the team did not hesitate to select the diminutive running back at 55 overall in last month's draft.

"He's the right kind of guy, who was one of my favorite players in this draft," said director of college scouting Eric DeCosta following the selection of Rice. "He's a ‘red star' [considered a true Raven by every scout], and most of you guys know what that is. Love the kid. He's our kind of player. He's got the right mentality to be a great special teams player for us. He gives us a lot of value as a second running back and I'm very excited."

New Ravens head coach John Harbaugh agreed wholeheartedly.

"I just think he's our kind of guy," said Harbaugh. "That's high character, he's tough, rough, loves to play football…He's a playmaker and he's not just a one-play playmaker, he's a durable playmaker. He's done it for a long time. He had a lot of carries at Rutgers. He's proven."

Now it's time for Rice to build on what he has done throughout his life and, with his inner drive for success, he will almost certainly thrive in the NFL.

Hank Nathan is a guest columnist for Ravens Insider and a journalism student at Washington & Lee.

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