The best receiver at South Carolina since Robert Brooks is a prime case study for the “star rankings don’t matter” crowd. There was a fierce battle for Sidney Rice (a 3-star FWIW), but it was between USC and Syracuse, and part of the battle seemed to hinge on him playing basketball in college.
Fortunately he chose the Gamecocks even though they had an anemic passing game and seemingly no quarterback on the horizon. He injured his knee in warm-ups his before the UGA game in 2004 and sat out the year recovering.
Throughout the spring and fall practices of 2005 with Spurrier at the helm, there was a buzz about this lanky receiver named Rice. But once again, he was injured in fall practice and had to sit out the ’05 season opener against Central Florida. The following week against Georgia, the fans found out what the buzz was all about. He had a handful of catches and one TD that day, but additionally he had a presence and confidence that caused fans to take notice.
Rice only played two years with the Gamecocks, but his list of accomplishments are long. And while the accomplishments are great, the memorable games and plays are even better – the leaping TD in the big win in Knoxville, the twisting catch and long catch and run against Florida, the tiptoe catch and complete abuse of Chris Houston of Arkansas, plus a whole lot more.
Looking back at Rice’s highlight videos, you sure hope Alshon and Co. can instill that kind of confidence back in the wide receiver corps.