High-SchoolFootball: Rutgers

The Huddle: The next play is never promised

December, 12, 2011
TBD EditorPatrick Miller/Wood FootballArchbishop Wood's (Warminster, Pa.) Desmon Peoples is on his way to run for Rutgers next year.
The huddle is a sacred place in football; one where the team and game are the only things that count. We’re going inside the huddle by talking to football players on the POWERADE FAB 50 teams to find out their most valuable lessons learned -- on or off the field -- that contribute to their success.

Senior running back Desmon Peoples of FAB 50 No. 22 Archbishop Wood (Warminster, Pa.) bounced back from a season-ending injury in his junior year to pace the Vikings' dangerous offensive attack this fall. Peoples rushed for 178 yards on 10 carries and two touchdowns in Wood's 70-14 drubbing of Allentown Central Catholic (Allentown, Pa.) this past weekend, earning a place in Friday's PIAA AAA state title game. The 5-foot-8, 175-pounder is a 3.0 student committed to play for Rutgers, where he plans to major in business.

A little more than a year ago, after logging 1,360 rushing yards (with an 8.0 yards per carry average) and 25 total TDs in 11 games played, Peoples broke his left foot in the Philadelphia Catholic League championship game, forcing him to watch the Vikings' final three games from the sidelines.

"That was a pretty hard time," said Peoples. "I just didn't like the feeling of watching my team play without me. I wanted to contribute. But I never lost faith."

Some advice from a player who had been in his shoes before went a long way.

"I actually had a conversation with [Syracuse product] Curtis Brinkley, who plays for the San Diego Chargers, and he had a similar injury to mine," said Peoples of the former West Catholic (Philadelphia) star. "He just encouraged me that all that I needed to do was to put my all into therapy and to concentrate on getting my strength back and that everything would be fine."

That's exactly what Peoples did, as he dedicated this past offseason to a grueling regimen that included work in the pool and on the track.

"I just worked really hard and I came back strong for this year," said Peoples. "I just felt confident that I could do the same thing if not better."

Having overcome a scary setback at a crucial time in his playing career and in the midst of the recruiting process, he's now in a position to provide counsel as Brinkley did for him.

"Play every game and every play like it's your last," Peoples said, "because you never know when something bad might happen and you could be out for a while. So go 100 percent every chance that you get, because the next play isn't promised."

ROLE MODEL: Darrien Peoples, father -- "My dad has always been the big factor in my life. He always motivated me to be the best that I can be on and off the field. He's just the epitome of a hard-working man."

ESPNHS Alumnus of the Week: Ray Rice

September, 12, 2011
Fantasy football owners who ignored the advice of "experts" and left Ray Rice in their lineups yesterday were rewarded, as the fourth-year running back of the Baltimore Ravens shredded the vaunted Pittsburgh Steeler defense for 107 yards and a TD on the ground and another touchdown and 42 yards receiving. Today we take a look back at Rice when he was in high school with an ESPNHS Alumnus of the Day feature.

Ray Rice
ESPNHSESPNHS knew Ravens running back Ray Rice in high school when he attended Nike Football Training camp in 2004. Rice had a strong start to the NFL season with 149 total yards and two touchdowns against the Steelers Sunday.
While he is now a star and one of the most highly-regarded running backs in the NFL, Ray Rice was not regarded as a five-star or blue-chip type of recruit in high school. Although he was extremely productive, rushing for 1,332 yards and 21 touchdowns as a junior and leading his team, New Rochelle (New Rochelle, N.Y.) to a state title, some in recruiting circles questioned Rice's height, and he was only the 11th ranked prospect in the Empire State in the Class of 2005 by Rivals.com, despite another stellar campaign as a senior in which he rushed for 1,192 yards on just 122 carries and scored 31 times.

Rice did star at the Penn State Nike Camp prior to his senior season, posting the 7th-best SPARQ Rating at the event at 89.24 out of 429 total attendees, which included the camp's top shuttle time at 3.86, and solid marks in the 40 at 4.59, and vertical jump at 35.6 inches. He also stood out in drills and one-on-ones at a camp with perhaps one of the most loaded running back groups ever looking back - including Rice and four other current active NFL backs; Arizona Cardinal LaRod Stephens-Howling, Houston Texan Steve Slaton, Philadelphia Eagle LeSean McCoy and Houston Texan Ben Tate.

Shortly after the Nike Camp, Rice committed to Syracuse and then-Orange head coach Paul Pasqualoni in June, only holding one other scholarship offer at that point from Virginia. When Pasqualoni was fired following the 2004 season, Rice visited Rutgers in January and changed his commitment to the Scarlet Knights just two weeks before National Signing Day in February.