While the Johns Hopkins football team ushers in a new season, Ryan Rice is also grasping something new: his position.
For the previous three years, Rice lined up at cornerback, where he made 87 tackles, intercepted four balls, and broke up 12 passes in his career. Last fall, he had a career-high three interceptions and added 27 tackles and four pass break-ups. Those numbers contributed to him being named a second-team preseason All-American by D3football.com.
But this year, Rice is moving to safety – a switch he has embraced.
“Corner is pretty simple,” he said. “You’re guarding the receiver in front of you for the majority of the time. At safety, I’m calling out the defense and making more calls and being more vocal.”
Moving Rice is a calculated risk as he and senior Jimmy Holder, a Fallston native and Loyola Blakefield graduate, could be counted on to blanket opposing wide receivers. But coach Jim Margraff said the 6-foot, 185-pound Rice can play a critical role in the middle of the defensive backfield.
“[Staying at cornerback] puts him on one side of the field, and people can throw away from him,” Margraff said. “At safety, he’ll direct our defense, and he’ll be able to help both the run and pass game. So we’re excited to see what he can do at safety.”
Rice's move allows the Blue Jays to shift senior Christopher Ibrahim from safety to outside linebacker, which was vacant after the graduation of John Arena. Juniors T.J. Reeves and Curtis Antrum are competing for Rice's old job.
After three seasons at cornerback, Rice acknowledged that playing safety has involved a somewhat lengthy transition. But he said his experience in the defense has helped.
“It’s easier to do going into my fourth year with the defense,” Rice said. “Obviously, knowing what’s going on helps a lot. There is [a lot more on my plate], but I enjoy that responsibility. I just like being in the middle of the field and getting involved with the calls and being able to make more of an impact.”