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Offensive lineman Rice looks for revenge against former team this weekend

Offensive lineman Rice looks for revenge against former team this weekend

September 08
12:13 2015

Reece Waddell | Senior Staff Writer

@ReeceTapout15

Junior guard Sam Rice hasn’t played a collegiate football game since he ended the 2013 season with Southern Methodist University.

It’s only fitting that his first game in nearly two years will be right back at Gerald Ford Stadium, home of the Mustangs. But this time, Rice will be on the visitors’ sideline and has plenty of ill will for the Mustangs he used to share a locker room with.

“I wish I could play defense so I could take their starting left tackle’s head off,” Rice said.

Unless the coaches allow him to play defense, Rice will unlikely be able to accomplish his goal. Fortunately for the lineman, sophomore linebacker Calvin Minor said he is more than willing to help him out with his endeavor.

“Please. Of course,” Minor said when asked if he would have Rice’s back on Saturday. “Anytime they got me on a blitz, I will have his number for sure.”

The mutual hatred between North Texas and SMU is nothing new, as the two have been cross-town rivals for decades. However, the hatred Rice has for SMU started a few years ago when he was a freshman.

Rice, a three-star prospect out of Coppell High School, said his commitment to SMU was an easy decision and made perfect sense at the time.

“My dad played there back in the 80s. And around the time they were recruiting me, they were also bringing in my brother as a transfer,” Rice said. “It seemed like a really good opportunity, so I said, ‘Alright, let’s do this.’”

His exuberance was short-lived. Despite playing in all 13 games as a freshman special teams specialist, Rice saw action in just six games of his sophomore season. This would ultimately lead the offensive lineman to pursue other options and was the reason he joined the Mean Green in the spring of 2014.

“Playing time, a disagreement in coaching. It just wasn’t what I wanted,” Rice said. “I thought there would be a better opportunity here with Coach Simmons and Coach McCarney.”

McCarney said the team hasn’t focused on Rice making a return to SMU, but insisted the junior holds SMU in a high regard.

“Obviously, Sam is pretty eager to get out there,” McCarney said. “It’s his former team, and he can tell you his feelings on that. But it’s where he chose to go first, it’s where he started and he has a lot of respect for SMU.”

Rice, on the other hand, tells a different story.

“I want to play against them. I think about it a lot,” Rice said. “These weeks can’t go by fast enough. They may have changed a lot since I left, new coaches and all that, but my feelings toward them haven’t changed.”

After choosing North Texas and watching SMU struggle in 2014 when the team went 1-11, including a 43-6 loss at Apogee Stadium last September, Rice admitted to a sense of satisfaction watching his former teammates struggle.

“Not going to lie, it felt good, really good watching it,” Rice said. “I just wish I could have played in the game last year. It would have made it that much better.”

Rice’s unique personality carries to the field as well. Senior starting quarterback Andrew McNulty said Rice has become a vital asset to the offense and brings a level of energy to the team.

“Sam, you know, he’s a character,” McNulty said. “But he’s a guy that can really get the offense going. He has the most energy out of anybody on the line and he’s always, ‘Rah, rah, let’s go.’ If we’re ever in a hole, he can get us out of it.”

The wait for Rice to seek revenge on the Mustangs is nearly over. While anxious for his shot at revenge, the former Mustang said he still will not change his personality for anyone.

“A lot of guys probably think I’m nuts,” Rice said. “But you know what, I probably am.”

Featured Image: Junior offensive lineman Sam Rice, left, chats with offensive line coach Mike Simmonds during a North Texas football practice. Courtesy | North Texas Athletics

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