By Ray Hamill — Brothers Jack and Maximus Rice are wasting no time in preparing to transfer after the news broke on Tuesday afternoon that Azusa Pacific is dropping its football program.
The two former H-DNL standouts were set to be reunited on the football field this year when younger brother Maximus committed to the team after graduating Arcata High, joining Jack, who had transferred to Azusa from Sacramento State in August 2019.
Now, however, that remains up in the air after Tuesday’s announcement, although the brothers are still hoping to transfer to the same program.
Jack, a junior quarterback, says he first heard the rumor of the news earlier in the day on social media, before getting the official word during a team zoom meeting in the afternoon.
The former St. Bernard’s standout, who helped lead the Crusaders to a state championship in 2015, says he had half expected the Cougars would drop the football team considering the current economics for college football within the state.
“It kind of symbolizes where California is going with college sports right now,” he said. “I said I wouldn’t be surprised if they cut the program, just being a small school.
“So it was kind of at the back of my mind, but it was definitely a shock.”
The two brothers played one season together in high school at St. Bernard’s when Jack was a senior and Maximus a freshman, before the younger brother transferred to Arcata a year later.
Maximus has been one of the top offensive linemen in the H-DNL for the past couple of years and signed a letter of commitment to play for the Cougars earlier this year.
By Tuesday afternoon both brothers were already busy piecing together highlight film to show coaches, immediately beginning the transfer process.
“I don’t know if he’ll transfer with me,” Jack said of Maximus. “That’s a decision he’ll have to make for himself.
“I’m hopeful we could play somewhere together. I was really looking forward to that.”
Jack is on track to graduate next fall but still has at least two years of eligibility remaining and is looking to find a school where he can pursue his masters and continue to play.
Azusa has been playing football for the past 55 years and was the last remaining Division-II program in California.
According to a press release from Azusa announcing the decision, 14 four-year colleges in California have dropped football over the past three decades (including Humboldt State in 2018), while only one (Chapman in 1994) has added the sport.
“From a high of 37 football-playing schools in California in 1975, only 17 still have the sport,” the press release said.