By Aaron Wilson
The Baltimore Sun
7:47 PM EDT, May 12, 2014
The son of Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice has been invited to try out for the Ravens during their rookie minicamp that starts Friday.
UNLV wide receiver Jerry Rice Jr. has not been signed or agreed to a contract, but he will attempt to convince the Ravens to sign him based on his work on the field later this week.
"My emotions are anxious, excited, all of that," Rice Jr told The Baltimore Sun in a telephone interview from San Francisco. "Once I get there, I have to prove myself and show those coaches what I can do and and contribute. That's the main focus. I'm going to enjoy the moment, but it's a business trip.
"I'm coming in and treating like an interview process. I've got to make sure I play to the best of my abilities and submit a good resume. Hopefully, they like what they see, I want to make it very hard for them not to sign me."
The older Rice is a 13-time Pro Bowl selection who played in the NFL for 20 seasons, earning three Super Bowl rings with the San Francisco 49ers. He's the NFL's all-time leader with 1,549 receptions, 22,895 yards and 197 touchdowns.
For Rice Jr, growing up as the son of a football legend provided a mixture of a great example to learn from and also a burden of high expectations.
"It's definitely unique," said Rice Jr., who arrives in Baltimore on Thursday. "It's a combination of a blessing and a curse. The blessing is I do have the DNA. The potential and capabilities are definitely in my DNA and I work hard.
"It can also be a curse because people super critique every little thing you do. They see the final product, but it's a process. I'm working to bring the most out of my ability to get better and refine my game and my craft and make sure it's perfect."
Rice Jr. grew up hearing about his father's accomplishments and surrounded by NFL greats like Joe Montana and Ronnie Lott.
"It was definitely great even though I was too little to watch them play," Rice Jr. said. "I hear stories and stuff like that. It's been great to soak it all in and be around that."
Rice Jr. caught 11 passes for 86 yards last fall in his lone season for the Rebels. He caught his only college touchdown in his final game in the Heart of Dallas Bowl against North Texas.
"Technique and route-running are some of the good qualities about me," Rice Jr. said. "I can run pretty precise routes. I just try to make the play and move the chains. If you can do positive things for the team, that's how you stay around and try to do your best and keep moving the chains."
Rice Jr. was a walk-on at UCLA who caught nine passes for the Bruins before going to UNLV.
He earned a scholarship after a couple of seasons at UCLA.
At the UCLA campus Pro Day workout, Rice Jr. ran the 40-yard dash in 4.68 seconds, bench pressed 225 pounds nine times and had a 33-inch vertical leap with an 8-10 broad jump.
Rice Jr. said he wants to make the most of this opportunity.
"I'm just going to take it step by step and try to make the team and move up," Rice Jr. said. "I have an overall big goal at hand. I need to reach little stepping stones to try to reach that big goal. Whatever I do, I'm going to make sure I have that 100 percent full effort.
"Mr. Ozzie [Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome] is giving me an opportunity and I'm going to do my best to make sure they're making a right choice to bring me in. That's my mindset is to prove myself as quickly as possible to show I have the ability and potential and leave them with a positive outlook for me."
Rice Jr. graduated in four years with an undergraduate degree in history from UCLA. He attended graduate school classes last year at UNLV to obtain a master's degree.
When football is over for him, he's interested in pursuing a career in the NFL in sports management, perhaps in the 49ers front office.
"I have a lot of ideas," Rice Jr. said. "I've thought about coming home to San Francisco and hopefully working in an NFL office one day. The 49ers would be a great opportunity. For now, I'm just focused on making the most of this opportunity with the Ravens."
NOTES: Among the other players invited to attend the Ravens' minicamp on a tryout basis: Georgetown strong safety Dustin Wharton, Tennessee-Martin defensive end-outside linebacker D.J. Roberts, Michigan running back Fitzgerald Toussaint, Rutgers offensive guard Antwan Lowery, Marshall defensive end Jeremiah Taylor, SMU wide receiver Jeremy Johnson, Miami (Ohio) linebacker Chris Wade and Idaho fullback-tight end Michael LaGrone.