For Niko Rice, football is more than just a game. Growing up, Rice played sports like lacrosse and basketball. But at the age of eight, Rice realized he had a talent for football when he started getting recruited by high schools around Maryland.
“I walked into high school my freshman year and my coach pulled me aside and told me he wanted me to start on varsity as a freshman,” Rice said. “It kinda just clicked for me that I was good at football.”
Now a junior at The John Carroll School in Bel Air, Maryland, Rice is coming off a successful season where his team went undefeated and captured the MIAA B Conference State Championship.
At 6-feet-1-inches and 185 pounds, Rice is a quick and skillful wide receiver. According to Keith Rawlings, the John Carroll football team’s head coach, Rice is able to stand out because of his impressive technique.
“Niko runs really good routes,” Rawlings said. “That’s probably one of his biggest attributes. He’s able to run great routes and he’s got great hands.”
Along with his hard work on the field, Rice has also performed well in the classroom, earning a 3.8 cumulative GPA. Rice’s successes have earned him offers from Ivy League schools like Harvard, Cornell and Columbia University. He also has offers from other schools like Howard, Holy Cross and the University of Pennsylvania.
Even with these offers on the table, Rice isn’t sure where he wants to play yet. He said he is still in the process of exploring all of his options.
“Right now I’m just visiting colleges and seeing what they’re talking about,” Rice said. “I’m really just exploring at this stage.”
According to Head Coach Keith Rawlings, Rice has matured considerably since his freshman year. Rawlings said Rice has learned to understand the different things he has to work on.
“He’s doing the things we’re telling him he needs to do,” Rawlings said. “He’s put on a little bit of weight and he’s gotten stronger, which is important.”
In order to prepare for next season, Rice said he is currently running track, lifting weights and doing various types of speed training. He said his personal goal next season is to be one of the top receivers in Maryland and to be recognized nationally as a receiver. As a team, Rice said he wants to get another state championship with John Carroll.
“We lost a couple talented players but I think my coach and my team will put something together,” Rice said. “We’ll do some prayers and go out and do our thing again.”
Outside of football Rice said he wants to study business in college, but he mentioned that he doesn’t want his parents to have to pay for his studies. Rice said he wants to use his talent for football to pay for his own education.
“It (football) gives me an opportunity to do things with my life that I would not be able to do without the sport,” Rice said.
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