OWINGS MILLS - Free agent wide receiver Jerry Rice Jr. knows the odds of making the Ravens are stacked against him. Yet that did not keep Rice from making some nice catches at rookie minicamp Saturday, and earning praise from Ravens coach John Harbaugh.
“Jerry Rice Jr. has done a nice job,” Harbaugh said after practice. “First of all, he’s a really good athlete. He doesn’t have his dad’s size, but he sure got his athleticism. When you watch him run, he runs in a really similar way. The other thing is, he’s got that West Coast offense down. He’s probably had that playbook since he was in the cradle. He knows all the rules, the crossing routes what to do. Very good hands, very good athlete. He did a real nice job.”
At 5-foot-10, 185 pounds, Rice is not nearly as big as his Hall of Fame father, Jerry Rice, who is the NFL’s all-time leader in catches (1,549), yards (22,895), and touchdowns (197). Rice Jr. has lived with frequent comparisons to his father, and has learned to cope with the attention.
“It’s something I’ve been born with,” Rice said. “I don’t know any better. You either burn yourself about it, or you take it as a challenge. Why not strive to be the greatest?”
After starting his college career at UCLA as a walk-on, Rice earned a scholarship before transferring to Nevada – Las Vegas, where he caught 11 passes for 86 yards last season. When the Ravens called and offered a tryout, Rice jumped at the opportunity. Rice said he spoke with his father before arriving in Baltimore.
“He gave me advice before I got here, but most things are basics – work hard, take advantage of your opportunity, just be thankful, and lastly just have fun with the whole experience,” Rice said.
No matter how long Rice stays with the Ravens, he believes the experience will be beneficial.
“It’s a great camp, a great opportunity with a great organization,” Rice said. “I’m having a lot of fun and learning a lot. I’m just trying to take in as much as I can, absorb it all.
“I think it’s gone well. Regardless of how everything goes, because I know it’s a business, I enjoyed it, and I think I did well, and I’m proud of myself. All I can do is be thankful for this opportunity.”