The stat line Jerry Rice, Jr. put up against California Saturday isn't going to make anyone forget his Hall of Fame father anytime soon, but Rice will take it.
He had two catches for 17 yards in his collegiate debut, helping UCLA take down the Golden Bears, 31-14, in a Pac-12 game victory over California at the Rose Bowl.
"I was nervous going in to it, but once I got in there I knew I had to step it up so we can get a win," Rice said. "I just tried to zone in and hone in on my assignments and I’m glad we came out with the win."
Rice, a sophomore, made his first catch early in the second quarter. It was a seven-yard hook on a third-and-13 play. California's Steve Williams hit Rice before he had a chance to make a move.
"I caught the ball and turned around and I took my first lick," Rice said.
His second catch was a bit more productive. It went for 11 yards on a third and nine play. UCLA didn't score on that drive, but Rice showed he could make a play in the clutch. And in a game when UCLA completed only nine passes, Rice was one of only two receivers with multiple receptions.
Still, downfield blocking was key in allowing quarterback Kevin prince to rush for 156 yards and the Bruins to tally a season-best 294 yards rushing.
"You know, we didn’t pass that much but when I was out there I was just trying to chase down who every was trying to catch KP," Rice said. "I had a lot of fun out there. It was the first time I had played a game in a long time and it was one of the best times I had in a long time."
Rice got his opportunity because four UCLA receivers were suspended because of their actions in a bench-clearing brawl last week at Arizona. Those players will return next week, so Rice may not play again this season. Then again, maybe his performance did enough to impress the coaching staff.
"I don’t know what the situation is going to turn out," Rice said. "All of our receivers are great receivers. Hopefully I’ll get to play some more, but if not, I did my best and helped get this team a step closer to a bowl game. If not, I just got to keep digging and keep trying."