It's not hard to tell reading the comments on UW Dawg Pound's commitment post for new Husky defensive end commit Myles Rice that everybody is a bit underwhelmed.
When I watched his junior film, I would find it hard to disagree with them. Rice didn't exactly jump off the screen as someone who could develop into an impact edge rusher in the Pac-12.
I did take note of one very important thing though: it was Rice's first year of football.
The tentativeness off the snap of the ball makes a lot more sense when that is taken into account. So does his inconsistent stance and lack of hand violence. It's tough to flash explosiveness if you don't know what you're doing on the football field. What I did see from him as a junior was him constantly hustling to the football and some pretty good speed. That is obviously something that any coach can work with.
There is a ton of room for growth with how new Rice is to the game and that improvement is already starting to show up on his senior film. He looks much more aggressive and much more explosive as a football player. I see him ripping and bending to get around the edge to hit the quarterback now. I see him making athletic plays while fighting to get off blocks and make tackles. He is making the kind of leap one would expect from their junior to senior year while he gains more experience playing the game.
Here's an example of a play that perfectly sums up Rice as a football player as a senior:
Rice is lined up at right end. His stance is much more of a sprinter style stance this season with him less on his heels.
Rice is quick off the snap and already has the edge on the offensive tackle. His pad level is too high, but the fact that he got off the ball that fast is a huge win.
Him getting up the field caused the play to blow up, but his pad level put him on the ground when he collided with the running back. So there has been some good (his get off) and some bad (him being on the ground).
Back to the good. He gets up off the ground and is busting his butt to get back into the play.
He went from blowing the play up, to being completely out of the play, and back to hustling to make the tackle.
I know it's not perfect, but that's a heck of a job fighting to get back into the play. That is a desire that you just don't see from a lot of guys. Technique can be taught, but I don't think that kind of effort can.
I have seen plenty of plays similar to that where a player gets up off the ground and does a fake jog just so he doesn't look bad on film the next day. Rice played like he had to make that play or no one else was going to.
There is no question that he is extremely raw in a ton of different areas. He is not someone who is going to plug in and be an immediate contributor by any means. But obviously Chris Petersen sees that speed, effort, and improvement and thinks he can be develop into a good football player for them at Washington.
He's not a typical kind of player that receives an offer from a Power 5 school, but Petersen is not a typical Power 5 school coach. He spent years building a program with players like Rice that didn't get the big offer, but they saw something in them that he and the coaching staff could develop.
I don't think anyone should fall into "trust the coaches" mode and put blind faith into everything a coach does in recruiting. But there is reason for Petersen and defensive line coach Jeff Choate to believe in Rice when they offered and accepted a commitment from him and it probably has a lot to do with them having success with similar players to Rice before at Boise State. Time will tell if he can show the kind of growth that turns all of the skeptics now into believers later down the line.