Former USC wide receiver and Gaffney native Sidney Rice is having his best season in his third year in the NFL and Sunday he will play in the biggest game of his young career. Rice and the Minnesota Vikings will play New Orleans Sunday in the NFC Championship with a chance to advance to the Super Bowl.
Rice’s career got off to a slow start in Minnesota. He only caught 31 passes for 396 yards his rookie season. He was injured part of the 2008 season and only caught 15 passes. He wasn’t putting up big numbers and some people in this state were questioning if Rice made the right decision to leave USC after his red-shirt sophomore year to enter the NFL draft.
No one is questioning that decision now (although I do think one more year in college would have bumped him up to a to 10 pick and given him a bigger initial payday, BUT then again, his second contract will be huge so it is still hard to argue his choice). Rice went through a strenuous offseason workout regimen with some big time NFL receivers and the results have been incredible. This season Rice caught 83 passes for 1, 312 yards and eight touchdowns. Last week against Dallas he had six receptions for 141 yards and three touchdowns.
Sidney Rice on his rise into an elite NFL receiver
Granted, it has helped to have a guy named Brett Farve throwing him the ball this year but Rice has developed into an elite receiver in the league. He is becoming the same type of star receiver he was when he was catching passes for the Gamecocks. I still contend Rice is the most talented receiver I have ever watched play in college and I have seen some pretty good ones. The kid just caught everything near him. Essentially, if the ball was kept inside the stadium, he was going to catch it.
I know USC fans will forever site Sterling Sharp as the all-time greatest wide receiver in Gamecock history. I also know Kenny McKinley is the all-time leading receiver in Carolina history. However, to me, even though he only played two seasons, Sidney Rice is the best receiver to come out of the University of South Carolina. The fact that he left to get paid and take care of his family should not take away from his amazing play during his collegiate career. He started his USC career with a touchdown in eight straight games. You knew right away he was special. He’s proving it again now.
USC has a rule that a player has to be gone five years before they can retire his or her number. In my opinion, that means number 4 should be posted at Williams-Brice in two years.