ESPNHS Alumnus of the Week: Ray Rice

Fantasy football owners who ignored the advice of "experts" and left Ray Rice in their lineups yesterday were rewarded, as the fourth-year running back of the Baltimore Ravens shredded the vaunted Pittsburgh Steeler defense for 107 yards and a TD on the ground and another touchdown and 42 yards receiving. Today we take a look back at Rice when he was in high school with an ESPNHS Alumnus of the Day feature.

While he is now a star and one of the most highly-regarded running backs in the NFL, Ray Rice was not regarded as a five-star or blue-chip type of recruit in high school. Although he was extremely productive, rushing for 1,332 yards and 21 touchdowns as a junior and leading his team, New Rochelle (New Rochelle, N.Y.) to a state title, some in recruiting circles questioned Rice's height, and he was only the 11th ranked prospect in the Empire State in the Class of 2005 by Rivals.com, despite another stellar campaign as a senior in which he rushed for 1,192 yards on just 122 carries and scored 31 times.

Rice did star at the Penn State Nike Camp prior to his senior season, posting the 7th-best SPARQ Rating at the event at 89.24 out of 429 total attendees, which included the camp's top shuttle time at 3.86, and solid marks in the 40 at 4.59, and vertical jump at 35.6 inches. He also stood out in drills and one-on-ones at a camp with perhaps one of the most loaded running back groups ever looking back - including Rice and four other current active NFL backs; Arizona Cardinal LaRod Stephens-Howling, Houston Texan Steve Slaton, Philadelphia Eagle LeSean McCoy and Houston Texan Ben Tate.

Shortly after the Nike Camp, Rice committed to Syracuse and then-Orange head coach Paul Pasqualoni in June, only holding one other scholarship offer at that point from Virginia. When Pasqualoni was fired following the 2004 season, Rice visited Rutgers in January and changed his commitment to the Scarlet Knights just two weeks before National Signing Day in February.