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Montana-to-Rice pairing may surface at UA

Citizen Staff Writer
UA FOOTBALL

JOHN MOREDICH

jmoredich@tucsoncitizen.com

Montana to Rice, Part II?

It could happen at the University of Arizona in a few years.

Arizona may have wide receiver Jerry Rice Jr. lining up on the outside next year, and the Wildcats are hoping to lure Nick Montana, a high school junior, to Arizona for 2010.

Rice Jr., a senior in high school, is trying to set up an official visit to UA.

Quarterback Joe Montana, Nick’s father, and receiver Jerry Rice were a dynamic combination with the San Francisco 49ers in the 1980s and early 1990s.

“(UA likes) to throw the ball and I like that, being a receiver,” Rice Jr. said. “I have watched a couple of games. I’ve seen No. 10 (Mike Thomas). What is he, 5-(foot)-10, 5-11? I like what he does and how they use him in the offense.”

Rice Jr. is 5 feet 10, weighs 175 pounds and plays wide receiver at Menlo High School in Atherton, Calif. He’s four inches shorter than his father, a 13-time Pro Bowl receiver and three-time Super Bowl winner.

The younger Rice doesn’t have the prototypical size or speed of his father, who is considered the greatest receiver in NFL history. But he does have the desire to make a name for himself with his versatility, elusiveness and hands.

“(My dad) coaches me if I need him to, but he stays away unless I ask,” Rice Jr. said. “He doesn’t pressure me or anything like that. I am going to use him to help me out, I have to. He is a valuable resource, obviously.”

Despite his high visibility, colleges have been slow to catch on to the Rivals’ two-star prospect.

UCLA and California have asked him to walk on, Rice Jr. said. He is also getting attention from Air Force and Yale.

Arizona has not offered a scholarship, but Rice Jr. says talks with UA receiver coach Michael Smith have picked up over the past month.

Rice Jr. can catch passes, return punts and kickoffs and line up at tailback. He also can play in the secondary and even took over at quarterback for one game.

He completed all nine of his passes for 108 yards, rushed for 178 yards and caught a 30-yard touchdown pass in that game. His 31-yard scoring run on a third-and-8 in the fourth quarter proved to be the winning touchdown.

“It was silly. He was running in one direction, juked out five guys, cut back and then ran past four more,” Menlo coach Mark Newton told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Rice Jr. wants to play just one position. What else?

“Wide receiver is No. 1,” he said. “Ideally I don’t want to do anything else, but I will do anything I can to help my team win.”

Nick Montana is a 6-foot-3, 185-pound, highly regarded QB from Oaks Christian High in Westlake Village, Calif. UA has already offered him a scholarship.

LAS VEGAS BOWL

Arizona (7-5) vs. No. 17 BYU (10-2)

When: 6 p.m. Dec. 20

Where: Sam Boyd Stadium

TV: ESPN

Line: UA by 3

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