It’s a decision that caused many sleepless nights for Hamilton senior wide receiver Brenden Rice and his family.
It’s a decision that was delayed on several occasions because he wasn’t completely set on his decision. But on Oct. 3, his mind was finally made up.
“I’ve decided,” Rice posted on his Twitter account. More than 230 responses from fans across the country followed, promoting their favorite schools in hopes Rice had decided to attend in the fall.
Three days later on Oct. 6, Rice committed to the University of Colorado.
“I trust in coach [Mel Tucker’s] vision and truly the background of what they present themselves as,” Rice said after his commitment. “They always try to go after all of the sleeper athletes.
“I just want to be a part of that because I want to grow with a group of dudes that know they’re going to compete day in, and day out and not be privileged.”
Rice, the son of NFL Hall of Fame wideout Jerry Rice, has worked toward creating his own legacy his whole life. Since arriving at Hamilton as a freshman, he’s been able to do just that.
Rated as a three-star prospect by 247Sports Composite, the 6-foot-2, 208-pound senior has become one of the most highly touted prospects in the state for the 2020 class. Since he began playing at the varsity level as a sophomore, he has caught 102 passes for 1,788 yards and 22 touchdowns.
There are times where he is still left in the shadow of his father, but he has learned to work through that and embrace the last name on his jersey. If anything, it’s only helped him work harder to become his own person, something Hamilton coach Mike Zdebski believes he has already accomplished in his young career.
“To me, anybody is their own person,” Zdebski said. “As long as you worry about yourself and not what anybody else says or thinks, all of that outside noise, then you’re in a good place.”
So far this season, Rice has 28 receptions for 450 yards and four touchdowns. He has helped lead the Huskies to a 7-1 record to become the sixth-ranked team in the Open Division heading into their contest against district-rival Perry this past Friday.
Despite being Hamilton’s leading receiver, he feels he hasn’t performed up to his own standards.
“My dogs have actually been doing it without me because I’ve had a terrible season,” Rice said. “I’m just proud of them, I’m cheering them on. I just want to get back to where I was and get better every day.”
The decision to commit to Colorado wasn’t easy for Rice, despite falling in love with the campus in Boulder.
It created many restless nights, as he constantly went back and forth in his head thinking of what the best fit for him as a player and person would be. Finally, it all seemed to click, and he knew Colorado was the best place for him to go.
“It was stressful, it took a lot of my focus,” Rice said. “There were times where I couldn’t sleep at night, honestly. My mom and I believe God put us in the right place at the right time and we believe in Colorado’s plans, so we knew that was the place I had to go.”
Rice aims toward becoming one of the best receivers in college football and make a name for himself at the next level. He hopes to contribute right away at Colorado but doesn’t want it to be handed to him.
He wants to work for his success and face being challenged every day to become great. His father did that at Mississippi Valley State from 1981-84. Now he wants to do the same at Colorado.
“That’s where my dad came from, that’s where so many of the other greats have come from,” Rice said. “To get to the next step in life, I need to go through that. I want to be a factor right away, but I have to put actions where the words are and match it.
“I have to keep grinding, keep going every day.”
The stress Rice had when thinking of where to commit didn’t necessarily leave when he announced his commitment to Colorado. In fact, he said he still had a sleepless night that Tuesday.
But now more than a week after he decided on where he would continue his career after high school, he has no regrets.
“I finally got some sleep,” Rice laughed. “I feel amazing.”