Jerry Rice Jr. knows he’s got a long way to go to reach his dad’s football legacy.
But you’ve got to start somewhere.
The son of Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice, Rice Jr. is one of many players trying out for the Ravens at Rookie Camp.
Tryout players have not signed contracts like undrafted rookie free agents, so they will wait to see if they get an extended look this summer. Rice Jr. will have a couple more practices Sunday before awaiting his fate.
While his chances are slim just based on the numbers, Rice Jr. at least impressed Head Coach John Harbaugh.
“Yeah, I’ll tell you, Jerry Rice, Jr. has done a nice job,” Harbaugh said. “First of all, he is a really good athlete. He doesn’t have his dad’s size, but he’s sure got his athleticism. When you watch him run, he runs in a real similar way.
“And the other thing is he’s got that West Coast offense down. He has probably had that playbook since he was in the cradle. He knows all the rules on the crossing routes and what to do, very good hands, very smooth athlete. He did a real nice job.”
Rice Jr. is a 5-foot-11, 185-pound UNLV product. He caught 11 passes for 86 yards in his final season. Rice Jr. was initially a walk-on at UCLA before transferring to Las Vegas.
Rice Jr. made one nice catch along the sidelines before sprinting the extra yardage all the way to the end zone. Another deep pass was just out of his reach.
Overall, he left satisfied with his performance.
“I think it’s gone well,” Rice Jr. said. “Regardless of how everything goes, because I know it’s a business, I enjoyed it and I think I did well and I’m proud of myself. All I can do is be thankful for this opportunity.”
Rice Jr., said he hasn’t had a chance to talk to his dad during rookie camp. Before he left, his father just told him to work hard, take advantage of his opportunities, be thankful and just have fun.
When you’ve got the DNA of perhaps the greatest football player that ever lived, you get unfair comparisons and expectations. Rice Jr. has been dealing with that for his entire life.
“It’s something I’ve been born with,” he said. “I don’t know any better.
“But you can take it two ways. You can either burn yourself up about it or you can take it as a challenge. So I definitely take it as a challenge. I mean, why not try to be the greatest? You’ve got one chance to do this, why not try to be your best?”
The Ravens were the first team to call Rice Jr. and invite him to camp, so he hopped on a plane and came immediately. He did not specify whether there were any other offers.
Harbaugh said it will be hard for too many (or any) tryout players to make the team considering they are limited to 90 players and already have a pretty full roster. But tryout players who shine will be narrowed down to a short list who could get a call if there are injuries or other changes.
After Sunday’s final rookie camp practice, Rice Jr. will wait to get word.
“I have a lot of steps, I have an overall goal,” he said. “We have a lot of stepping stones to get there. First, I’m trying to make a team any way possible, whether it’s special teams, offense, whatever it takes to get there. And then from there build up.”