After quarterback, the offensive line might be the most desired position in football recruiting. This is because, without a good offensive line, the offense wouldn’t be able to do much. They have the responsibility of opening up holes for running backs and protecting the quarterback on pass plays.
With the offensive line being so important, the top prospects are sought after by just about everyone. This is the case for Zach Rice, the top offensive tackle in the class of 2022. The Virginia prospect has over 30 offers, which include Alabama, North Carolina, Virginia, Notre Dame, and Ohio State.
Rice is ranked as the top prospect on the offensive line and in Virginia on both the 247sports composite and 247sports ratings. On the 247sports composite, he is the seventh-best prospect overall. Rice is currently not committed to a school.
Rice is listed on 247sports as 6’6”, 282 lbs. He has the desired height that teams look for in an offensive tackle. He will have to put on some weight before stepping on a college field, however, that’s not an issue. Rice had 115 pancakes in eight games in 2021, according to his junior highlights.
Rice is strong as it’s tough for defenders to get off of him when he’s blocking. This was shown in his highlights, when on one play when he was run blocking and pushed the defender back about five yards. Rice is also quick when pulling and engages on his assignment instead of letting them come to him. The first two plays of his junior highlights show him doing just that and helping his running back score.
Rice is always looking for someone to block and doesn’t stop until the play is over. Many times on his highlights he was either staying engaged with his defender or looking for another one until the whistle. He also does a good job of moving his feet and not standing still when blocking. If a lineman does not continue to move their feet, they are in danger of giving up leverage.
When Rice is pass blocking, he is tough to get around. On one play, it looked like the defensive lineman had a clear shot to the quarterback. However, Rice stopped him right before reaching him and the quarterback got away from them. On other plays, the defensive linemen were not even close to reaching the quarterback.
Rice also has a knack for being defenders to the ground, hence the 115 pancakes. He opens up his hips, which gives him more than enough strength to knock any defender off of his feet. This was shown many times during his highlights.
One thing Rive will have to be careful of is not playing beyond the whistle. With a player as competitive as him, there may be times where he could hit someone after the play is over. There were also times where Rice, could have been called for holding if it was a college game. He has to be careful and not grab a defender.
Rice has all the tools to be an elite player and is ahead of most high school linemen in terms of technique. With a few years of coaching and strength and conditioning, he will be hard to get around.