by Lori Cruz
Senior Anthony Rice got the phone call minutes after the NFL draft ended Sunday from the Philadelphia Eagles offering him a two-year contract as a free agent.
“My dream come true,” he said of the event, adding that he “wasn’t shocked to get the call” because he has been preparing for this all his life.
The deal Rice worked with the Eagles includes $131,000 during the first year and $164,000 the second.
Rice signed on as a defensive back, although he also played running back at ULV.
Jacksonville, Baltimore, Houston and Philadelphia all recruited Rice, but because he was not drafted, he got to choose where he wanted to play.
“He was signed minutes after the draft,” said Don Morel, head football coach. “They made a commitment to him as a free-agent, which is unheard of.”
“The Eagles put everything on the table and I liked how they sounded,” said Rice. “I just wanted the opportunity to be chosen and looked at, so to have a choice was great. I really appreciate everything that their organization has brought to me.”
“Everyone was saying I don’t have the size because they like big guys, but when they came out here I put up the numbers,” Rice said.
“Physically, he’s fine,” said Morel. “The big challenge for him is going to be to step up and compete play after play, practice after practice to get ready to play at that level.”
Morel added, “If he had played at a big school, he certainly would have been drafted.”
“Don and my agent really brought a lot of people out here to see me,” Rice said.
“They draft seven guys and bring in certain free agents and they start cutting, but I’m not worried about getting cut. I know myself and I know what type of person I am. I’m going to go in and do the best job that I can and I’m going to compete at that level that I need to compete at. I know that I’m ready,” he said.
Rice left yesterday for a three-day training camp, which includes meetings and a physical evaluation. He said there will be two practices on Friday and Saturday and one on Sunday.
Training camp begins in June, when Rice said, “they will really be getting ready and placing the foundation and set their roster and I plan to be on that roster.”
He said that the contract will prohibit him from playing in any other NCAA events, so his track career may be over.
“Anthony should be very proud of his accomplishments. To be signed as a free agent is really a tribute to his athletic ability,” said Morel.
“My family is very happy. I want to go out there first and see what it’s about,” before taking his 19-month-old son to Philadelphia. He added that he and his family might continue to live in California.