Naomi raised Errict and Michael by herself and is the primary reason they got college educations, according to Mastrantonio. "She kept them in line, kept after them to go to school," he says. "And every Sunday they put on their best clothes and went to church." The family lived in a West Hollywood project called Carvers Ranches. When Mastrantonio drove Errict and Michael home from practice, they made him drop them off on the main road. "They were afraid if I drove into the project, I'd get shot because I'm white," he says.
Rhett says he chose Florida over Miami and Florida State for the simple reason that the Hurricanes and the Seminoles were too pass-happy for a star schoolboy tailback like himself. "I needed the ball," he says. As a Gator he got it a lot, amassing 4,163 rushing yards and 34 touchdowns and breaking Smith's career rushing record. Rhett finished his collegiate career third on the Southeastern Conference's alltime rushing chart, behind a guy named Bo and a guy named Herschel. NFL stardom seemed preordained.
But at the scouting combine Rhett, who claims to have 4.5 speed in the 40, ran a series of expensive 4.6's. On draft day, as the first round came and went, he went for a walk. That the Bucs snatched him with the 34th pick was little consolation. "For a while I didn't even know who took me," he says. "I was mad at the world."
He brought his anger to Tampa and has taken it out on teammates and opponents ever since. He has rushed for 895 yards and scored 11 touchdowns in 1995. Only 11 players in NFL history have rushed for 1,000 yards in each of their first two seasons. The Bucs are fighting for their first playoff berth since 1982. So much for the sophomore jinx.
"Sophomore jinx?" says Rhett, sounding downright surly. "I work too hard for that."