|Date of birth:||September 5, 1967|
|Place of birth:||Greenwood, South Carolina|
Barcelona Dragons (World League)
|Career highlights and awards|
|Honors:||1989 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award
1989 4th in Heisman Trophy
1989 All-American Team
Tony Rice (born September 5, 1967 in Greenwood, South Carolina) is a former professional American football player, playing quarterback in the Canadian Football League and World League of American Football. Rice is perhaps best remembered as the dynamic option quarterback of the University of Notre Dame's 1988 National Championship Team under coach Lou Holtz. Rice would play professional football for only two seasons for the Canadian Football League's Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Barcelona Dragons of the World League of American Football in 1991 and 1992.
While growing up in Woodruff, South Carolina, Rice played high school football for Woodruff High School under Coach Willie Varner. Rice entered Notre Dame in 1986 and was the crown jewel in Holtz's first recruiting class. These incoming freshmen were also the first to be bound by the NCAA rules of Proposition 48, which stated that in order to participate during his (or her) freshman year, an athlete must (1) be a high school graduate; (2) have a high school grade point average of 2.0 in an 11-course core curriculum; and (3) have scored 700 (out of a possible 1600) on the SAT or 17 (out of a possible 36) on the ACT. If he (or she) failed to meet those standards, the athlete would not be allowed to play or practice with a college team his (or her) freshman year. Because Rice failed to meet the required 700 on his SAT (he scored a 690), he was forced to sit out the entire 1986 season. Even with future NFL quarterback Steve Beuerlein leading the offense, the team struggled to a 5-6 record.
In 1987, Tony Rice became the starting quarterback for Notre Dame following an injury to Terry Andrysiak. The Irish would finish the season 8-4 and earn a berth to the Cotton Bowl Classic, where they would endure a 35-10 loss to 13th-ranked Texas A&M in a game where Rice played only sparingly. Despite the loss, the team showed dramatic improvement and would finish the year ranked #17 — the team's first Top-25 finish since 1980.
The elusive, strong-armed Rice was a perfect fit for Holtz's ball control, run-oriented offense. Despite standing only 6'1" 200 lbs., he had great speed (4.5 40 yard dash time) for a quarterback, and tremendous strength, which made him an incredibly difficult player to contain. For the year he would finish with over 1,000 yards of total offense and 8 total TDs (663 yards, 1 TD passing and 337 yards, 7 TDs rushing).
1988 would see Notre Dame claim their first National Championship in 11 years. For the season the team would go a perfect 12–0 enroute to claiming an NCAA-record eighth AP National Championship since the poll began in 1936. The season would feature dramatic wins over top ranked opponents including Michigan, USC, and Miami in addition to featuring several prominent future NFL players including Raghib Ismail, Ricky Watters, Chris Zorich, Derek Brown, Todd Lyght, Pat Terrell, Tony Brooks, Anthony Johnson, Andy Heck, Tim Grunhard and Rodney Culver. In all, 21 of the 22 starters on the 1988 National Championship team would go on to play in the NFL, the lone exception being Tony Rice.
Miami was No.1 and Notre Dame No.4 when they met in South Bend on Oct.15. The Irish held a 31–21 lead in the third quarter, but the Hurricanes rallied to within 31–30 on a touchdown with 45 seconds left in the game. The Canes went for the two-point conversion and missed.
Six weeks later, #1 Notre Dame visited #2 USC at the L.A. Coliseum. The USC team led by All-American and future Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award winner Rodney Peete was 10-0 and a truly formidable team. Entering the game Peete was leading the nation in passing and was a frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy. Notre Dame would additionally be playing without leading pass catcher Ricky Watters, and leading rusher Tony Brooks, both of whom were suspended for arriving late to team meetings. Tony Rice would have a spectacular day, including a breathtaking 65 yard TD run which would seal the victory. The Irish would win the game handily 27-10 and propel them into the National Championship game.
Coming into the 1989 Fiesta Bowl, Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz insisted that his team couldn't pass the ball against West Virginia. Tony Rice simply smiled and agreed. But by the end of the game he had outplayed Mountaineer quarterback Major Harris by completing 7 of 11 passes for 213 yards and two touchdowns.
Rice would finish the year with 1,176 yards and 8 TDs passing and 700 yards and 9 TDs rushing.
Dame starting quarterbacks
1987 - 1989