MOBILE, Ala. — There’s no denying that living up to the name of a Hall of Famer in College Football and the NFL is a tall task.
No one understands that more than Brenden Rice, who’s father Jerry is arguably the greatest wide receiver to every play the game. The former USC wideout is navigating through his path to the NFL Draft, and is coming off a solid week at the Senior Bowl. Although Rice decided not to play in last Saturday’s game, he did compete in all three practices prior to the event.
Rice had a decent day one, a rough day two and rebounded nicely on the final scrimmage of day three. At times he struggled to get separation from defensive backs, but made up for it with some catches in traffic over the middle. Standing six-foot-two, and weighing 212 pounds, means Rice has the ideal size for a wideout at the next level. Even his father believes he’s faster and stronger than he was, which is saying a lot.
Rice remains confident in the physical tools that he’s bringing to the next level, and feels he has a high ceiling.
“My height, my strength, just being this weight and be able to move with it,” Rice said. “Being fast off the line of scrimmage with how aggressive I am with my routes, and be able to get in and out of my breaks, I feel like I can provide the complete package.”
The Arizona native is coming off a breakout season with the Trojans, in which he earned second-team, All-Pac-12 honors. Not only did Rice tie for ninth nationally with 12 touchdown receptions, but he also led the conference in yards per catch. It helped Rice’s cause that he caught balls from former Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams.
Rice started out his collegiate career at Colorado under Karl Dorrell. However, he struggled to make his mark in Boulder, due to poor quarterback play. Transferring to USC was probably the best decision Rice ever made in his career. After all, Coach Lincoln Riley is an offensive guru, and helped Rice elevate his game in every way imaginable.
He has enough speed to take the top off a defense, and NFL Offensive Coordinators love deep threats. Not to mention Rice has the vertical to catch the ball out of the air at its’ highest-point. Rice had to adjust to different playbooks with the Buffaloes and the Trojans, so learning the NFL x’s and o’s should come natural. There’s a reason why he feels positive about transitioning to the pros.
“I can adjust to a lot of quarterbacks, a lot of playbooks, it just takes time with building that chemistry,” he said. “Staying down, getting some extra work with the NFL coaches and using my resources.”
That doesn’t mean there aren’t areas of his game that Rice wants to improve. In order to become a complete receiver, he knows it’s going to be a daily grind at everything, including blocking.
“I want to work on my savviness within my routes, continue to create separation, speed and work on consistency each and everyday,” the 21-year old said. “Blocking is an effort thing.”
It’s no mystery that Rice will be placed under a microscope during this draft process because of who his father is. Still, he’s not afraid of the spotlight, and ready for any challenges that are thrown his way. Rice is embracing everything that comes with the territory, so he has no worries and just wants to prove he belongs.
“Pressure is a privilege.”