While the scoreboard did not necessarily go their way, it was still a good day to be an Owl on Saturday.
The Owls kicked off their season on Saturday at Reliant Stadium against the University of Texas Longhorns, ranked 5th in the nation. Over 70,000 filled the stadium, making it the most well attended Rice season opener since 1961.
Redshirt freshmen Taylor McHargue got the starting nod at Quarterback, and lead the Owls down the field on a 57 yard drive to set up a Chris Boswell 42 yard field goal. It was the only score of the quarter, as the Owls forced a huge turnover on downs on a Texas goal line stand at Rice’s own five yard line.
McHargue threw an interception just as time was running out in the first quarter in Rice territory to set up the first Longhorn score of the day, a field goal from 51 out that tied the game up at 3-3. Rice would drive down the field once again, only to be stopped at their own thirty. This left a 48 yard field goal attempt for Boswell, who missed it just right.
From this missed field goal, Texas would make their first substantial drive of the game, going 69 yards in 9 plays to punch the ball across the goal line at the one.
Rice would regain possession, only for McHargue to fumble deep inside Rice territory, his second turnover of the day. It would be picked up and returned for a Longhorn touchdown by linebacker Keenan Robinson.
Rice would go four and out on their next possession to set up another long Texas drive, capped by a 31 yard Garret Gilbert pass over the middle of the field. The Longhorns would once again punch the ball in from the Owls one yard line to go up 24-3.
Rice regained possession with a little over a minute to play and moved the ball up to their own forty off off a Texas personal foul. This set up an amazing 47 yard pass over the middle to WR Randy Kitchens, who was trailing after the pass was intended for TE Vance McDonald and managed to grab the ball off the tip. He would drag his Texas defender the last ten yards to just barely dive into the endzone. After the Boswell extra point, the score was 24-10.
Both defenses came out ready to play in the 3rd quarter, as neither team scored until a UT touchdown off a one yard run with 3:42 remaining. Texas missed two long field goal opportunities, over the course of the quarter, giving Rice decent field position. Neither team could gain any momentum however.
The fourth quarter started with a Rice drive that left them just outside field goal range. The ensuing drive from Texas brought another big goal line stop for the Owls and another field goal for UT, brining the score to 34-10, the largest margin of the game.
The Longhorns forced a Rice punt, however it was mishandled by Longhorn return man Aaron Williams, providing the Owls with excellent field position deep inside Texas territory. Nick Fanuzzi, who had come into the game at quarterback, found WR Luke Willson on a 13 yard pass to set up RB Charles Ross’ two yard TD run. The Boswell extra point made the final score 34-17.
Texas Quarterback Garrett Gilbert led the game passing with 172 yards, while Rice QB Mchargue had 90. McHargue did have the only passing TD of the game. WR Randy Kitchens led the Owl’s receiving core for 53 yards and one TD.
Transfer RB Sam McGuffie led the Owl’s with 47 net rushing yards on 14 carries in his Owl’s debut. Junior RB Tyler Smith contributed 46 yards on 11 carries.
“I thought we went toe to toe with a giant and finished that game strong and finished it hard,” Head Coach David Bailiff said. “I'm really pleased that our freshman quarterback came out and played and effectively moved the offense.”
Senior Britany Williams won the 1500-meter run in 4:30.09, just ahead of second-place finisher freshman Heather Olsen, who earned a lifetime best of 4:31.56. Senior Claire Shorall rounded out the 1500 finishers, breaking the five-minute mile pace with her time of 4:39.90.
In the 800-meter run, senior Vicki Walker earned a lifetime best of 2:09.68 to take first place. Walked was followed by sophomores Sophie Peeters, in 2:12.74, and Keltie John, who finished in 2:14.13.
Freshman Sojourner Brown placed third in the 400 meters, finishing in 62.09. The 4X400 relay earned the team’s best time in three seasons, placing second overall with a time of 3:40.28.
Freshman Cleona Oliver also impressed, earning a lifetime best in the pole vault at 12’ 8”.
Other lifetime bests came in the jumps and throws. In the long jump, senior Shannon Moran led the Owls, earning her second-best ever jump at 19’ 2” to finish seventh. Classmate Britney Blodget earned a lifetime best at 18’ 2”. In the triple jump, junior Sarah Agara placed second at 39’ 6”.
In throwing events, senior Katie Dollinger nabbed a pair of lifetime bests in the shot put and hammer throw. Dollinger threw for 41’ 4” in the shot put and placed second overall in the hammer with her throw of 167’ 8”. Sophomore Brittany Brown also earned a lifetime best in the shot put with her throw of 42’, good enough for seventh place.
Just a few months ago, the golf team appeared to be on their way to one of their most successful seasons in recent memory. The Owls were coming off their second team title of the year at the Rice Intercollegiate, and an NCAA Regionals berth seemed all but certainty. How far ago that now seems.
Recent struggles by the team have placed them in a precarious position on the bubble of making Regionals. With only 84 spots for all the Division 1 golf schools, Rice is in no way guaranteed a spot, especially if there are any more upsets in other conference tournaments by teams that most likely would not have been in otherwise.
The Owls currently sit ranked 66th by Golfstat, and need a 3rd place finish in their upcoming conference tournament. The three-day event, beginning on April 25, takes place at Red Tail Golf Club. While Rice is almost certainly one of the top three teams in the conference, a third-place finish is anything but guaranteed. The return of the fall-version of freshman Jade Scott, who won the David Toms Intercollegiate, would be welcome. Freshman Brock Wilson, coming off a strong showing at the Jim West Invitational, could also play a huge role for the Owls.
Ultimately, the play of Rice's Big 3 will be the determining factor if Rice makes Regionals. Michael Whitehead, Christopher Brown, and Michael Buttacavoli have played strong golf all season long, and it's their play that will decide if the Owls will leave Sorrento, FL on April 27th comfortable with their chances of making Regionals.
Baseball is all about the numbers, right? Then there is no better way to take an overview of the Owls’ season so far than to look at some stats.
- ?: Perhaps the most telling number is the lack of one. Rice has not made an appearance in Baseball America’s Top 25 since the week of March 22, when the team was no. 25.
- 21-14: With only 19 games left in the regular season, I don’t think anyone would have predicted that the Owls would have a meager .600 winning percentage. They are playing below .500 while on the road (7-9).
- .362, 13, 42, .750, .536: All of sophomore third baseman Anthony Rendon’s offensive numbers. He is following up on his National Freshman of the Year season in a stellar manner.
- 35: The number of games started by freshman second baseman Michael Ratterree. He and Rendon are the only two Owls to have started every game.
- 45: The number of base on balls this season for Rendon, which ranks him first in Division I.
- .352: The batting average of sophomore outfielder Jeremy Rathjen, who has been Rice’s hottest hitter of late. He trails Rendon by only 4 RBI.
- 50: The amount of runs Rice has scored in its last three games. The Owls smashed Tulane 19-1 in their series finale on Sunday, they came from behind to beat Sam Houston State 8-7 on Tuesday and the team dominated Texas A&M Corpus Christi 23-1 on Wednesday.
- 4.46: The cumulative ERA of the pitching staff. Pitching was a question mark heading into the season, and it has not been as solid as Coach Wayne Graham would have liked.
- 49.1: Innings pitched by sophomore Taylor Wall, which leads the team. The lefty ace has started eight games, more than any other pitcher, but sits with a 1-4 record.
- 1.78: The ERA of perhaps Rice’s most dependable reliever, junior Abe Gonzales. He leads the relief corps with 30.1 IP and is tied for the team lead with four wins.
- 5: The number of conference series left on the Owls' schedule. With three-game series left against UCF, East Carolina, Marshall, Southern Miss and UAB, Rice has plenty of time to right its ship and climb back into the national rankings.
In this week's women's track article, Britany shared her thoughts about the end of the indoor season. Here's the full-length version of her interview.
Rice Thresher: For someone who has only known success at the conference meet, how difficult was it to take that the meet ended with y’all in second place?
Britany: It was extremely difficult. As the meet went on, I started having a feeling where if we’re going to lose, I just want to lose by a lot. Our coach said, if we’re going to lose, that’s fine, but we want to put out our hardest effort. I would’ve been OK with that, but the fact that it was only three, three and a half points that was what was hard and that you can count how many instances we could’ve scored three points. So it was extremely upsetting you don’t know any better and winning a meet brings a lot of confidence. It’s hard being knocked off that pedestal. I think that will motivate us even more when it comes to outdoor because we do have the chance where we’re going to win four in a row. We’re even more motivated more because we’ve been knocked off that pedestal.
RT: After the second place finish, would you say the team feels motivated to compete in outdoor?
Britany: I think it’s always good competing at a conference meet because it brings you together. When you’re in cross country, it’s always about bonding. Conference meets are always good because you can watch people you haven’t watched before and go cheer on some of your teammates. After conference meets we always tend to be a little bit more like a family. I think that is always a positive that I’ve enjoyed. Whether you win or lose the conference meet, you always remember why you’re here. Sure track is a bit of an individual sport, but at the end of the day we’re wearing a Rice uniform and we’re doing this for Rice. It gets hard at the end of the season when five people are going to this meet and give people are going to that meet. It’s nice when everybody is together. It’s a positive you get out of conference every year whether you win or lose.
RT: What did it mean to you to earn a provisional qualifying time and the top conference mile time?
Britany: I feel like I’ve fallen short in my past three years that I’ve been here. I was the first person out from nationals last year in the 5K. Especially not to qualify, I had still yet to get in the top three in an event at conference in a relay. I think I was really glad this weekend. Sure, I may not have gone top three in the mile conference but at least I ended my season knowing I’m number one in something and I can end my season knowing I provisionally qualified which has been a goal of mine since the moment I stepped on campus. It’s nice to finally say I had a goal and I met it. It gives me a confidence boost, I always had confidence in my ability and I did know I was able to do that. But, you can only go so long having confidence in something without really doing it. I think I was starting to get to the point where I was wondering if I can, since I had never actually done it. It was nice to reassure myself that I’m not crazy. I can do it and that I do belong at nationals and all of that. That was a good confidence booster going into the outdoor season.
No surprises were to be found in the way the matchup between Texas and Rice played out on Friday night at Minute Maid Park, the first of three games Rice will play in the Houston College Classic. With Rice's ace, sophomore southpaw Taylor Wall, squaring off against sophomore right-hander Taylor Jungmann, considered by many experts, including Rice's Head Coach Wayne Graham, to be the best pitcher in the nation, runs and baserunners would prove to be valuable commodities.
Throughout the game, it appeared to be Texas who was high on good fortune. Junior shortstop Rick Hague drove a pitch just feet short of the left field bullpen that appeared to be good for at least a stand-up triple, only to be robbed by a circus catch from center fielder Connor Rowe, who tripped over left fielder Kyle Lusson in the process. Later in the game, Rowe had another web gem courtesy of a ball smashed to center field by junior right fielder Chad Mozingo, running up Tal's Hill to rob Mozingo of an RBI double that would have put the Owls ahead.
But it wasn't all defense that dominated the game. Wall and Jungmann both kept their fair share of batters from even making contact, with Wall pitching his best game of the year, striking out eight and allowing two runs in 7.1 innings of work. Jungmann had eight K's as well, allowing four hits and one run in 7.2 innings of work. Wall was able to get his off speed pitches working very quickly, while Jungmann relied on his 6-6 frame and overpowering fastball to stymy the Owls. Once again, Rice failed to take advantage of the fastballs that were not dealt at top speed, instead choosing to let the bat rest on their shoulders on several good opportunities. Unfortunately, the Owls chose to swing at very few first pitches, even when Jungmann's pitch count escalated in the later innings. While Wall simply outpitched the Longhorns' lineup save for a few poor pitches that went for hits, Rice appeared intimidated at the plate by Jungmann in a few cases.
The Longhorns finally broke through in the sixth, fed up with the Owls consistently driving balls deep to the outfield for long outs. After Wall foiled a poor sacrifice bunt attempt by first baseman Tant Shepherd, throwing out second baseman Jordan Etier at second. Shortstop Brandon Loy drove a hard grounder to sophomore third baseman Anthony Rendon, advancing Shepherd to scoring position. With two outs, catcher Cameron Rupp, arguably UT's best power hitter, took a pitch straight up the gap between second and short, scoring Shepherd. Wall was able to escape without further damage.
The Owls answered in the eighth, courtesy of junior first baseman Abe Gonzales two-strike blast that drove in sophomore pinch-runner Daniel Gonzales-Luna with one out. However, Gonzales' was thrown out at second, which proved to be a fatal error, as freshman second baseman Michael Ratterree drove a double off the left field wall (just inches short of being a round tripper) against UT's Chance Ruffin, which would have scored Gonzales to put Rice ahead.
Rice's celebration was short lived, as Wall chose to stay in to face Loy after a mound conference with Wayne Graham. Loy proceeded to double to score Shepherd from first, ending Wall's time on the mound. Freshman Tyler Duffey came in to continue the superb pitching he has brought to the mound all season, retiring the next two Longhorns.
Unfortunately, Ruffin appeared to have figured out the Owls lineup after allowing two balls to be hit deep in his previous inning of work, striking out the side in the ninth to end the game.
Rice (5-5) will look to rebound against Texas Tech at 7 p.m. tonight. The Red Raiders lost 11-2 to Texas Christian University on Friday.
The Silver Glove Trophy Series has started! The first of five games against Houston (2-5) took place this afternoon at Reckling Park, and Rice (4-4) captured an 8-2 victory. Senior pitcher Jared Rogers picked up the win, his first of the season.
The Owls stumbled coming out of the gate this season, losing their first four games against Stanford and Lamar. But in the Rice Invitational last weekend and today’s game against the Cougars, Rice has rebounded and evened its record at 4-4.
Here are some notes from today’s game and the current winning streak:
- Redshirt sophomore Michael Fuda, who has started each of Rice’s eight games, came into today’s game as the team’s leading hitter and proceeded to extend his hitting streak to 12 games.
- The pitching has thankfully improved over the short course of this season. In Rice’s first four games, the pitching staff forfeited 6, 14, 7, and 13 runs. The second four? 2, 3, 2, and 2.
- Freshman second baseman Michael Ratterree has just about been as good as advertised. He is hitting .258, has started all eight games, and leads the team with three homers. And he’s not the only freshman to find success. Chase McDowell is hitting .400 in five games and has two bases-loaded hits.
Rice travels to Texas State tomorrow—to make up for the rained-out game last week—and then this weekend will play in the Houston College Classic Tournament at Minute Maid. The Owls face the University of Texas on Friday at 7 p.m., Texas Tech University on Saturday at 7 p.m., and Texas Christian University on Sunday at 6 p.m.
While the Owls were getting ready to take on the ECU pirates this afternoon, I was making sure that my live feed of the game wouldn't get interrupted by any of the babies running around my uncle's house in Cleveland. I'd say that the Owls missed my presence at Tudor Fieldhouse if the game hadn't turned into such a familiar affair.
Again, we saw the young squad fall behind thanks to temporary lapses in intensity and concentration. Again, after overcoming turnovers and letting golden chances slip away – that's why they call them FREE-throws – the Owls couldn't bridge the gap when the game was on the line. One thing we can be sure of is that the team is becoming consummate foulers with seconds left on the clock, but I am sure that Ben Braun would much rather never face that situation again.
Starting with their game against SMU in Dallas on Wednesday, the Owls were coming out with something to prove. In particular, Arsalan Kazemi and Trey Stanton were both coming off one of their worst performances of the season against Southern Miss. Kazemi scored four and grabbed six rebounds, while Stanton scored four and grabbed only two off the boards in 24 minutes of play.
Braun assured me that no one was more upset about the performance than Kazemi, but his two point performance in the following match raised some serious questions. Teams around the league – and indeed the nation – have picked up on his athleticism and ability. His roof-shaking dunk against Texas A&M spurred the team to victory, but may have spoken louder than he would hope, convincing his opponents that some extra time be spent on keeping him quiet.
The freshman forward can't honestly be expected to carry the team to victory every night, but I am sure that he will be needed to produce more than the five points he put up today. On the other hand, freshman Tamir Jackson, who also struggled on the road against SMU and Southern Miss, came out with a vengeance in front of the home crowd.
While the resurgence of Lucas Kuipers is certainly an important note for the team, the responses coming from Jackson and Kazemi to their recent loses tell the bigger story of the team's future.
Jackson responded simply by putting the team on his shoulders and taking more shots than anyone else on the floor, going 6-17. Kazemi couldn't put up the same numbers but showed the one area where no team will be able to reliably stop him – rebounds. Four offensive rebounds showed why he is called the beast of the Middle East, none of which was more important than the one that led to a TJ three that put the Owls within four points early in the second half. About a minute later Jackson stole the ball and found Suleiman Braimoh for a fast break dunk to cut ECU's lead to two, 33-31.
But these flashes of brilliance almost make another 'L' seem that much worse. What can be said for a team that knows how to get the job done but just can't seem to win?
ECu, playing only eight men all afternoon, rolled over the Owls shooting 60% at Tudor in the second half. Ben Braun may be known for coaching teams with mean defenses, but Rice just isn't exhibiting the discipline that Ben Braun squads have been known to possess. Free-throw shooting, lapses in concentration, and defensive commitment all stem first and foremost from discipline.
At this point in a season that is beginning to look like a major failure, any remaining victories will come from another place in the team's heart. A little pride should be enough to give the Owls reason to finish the season strong, to show their fans that they haven't given up. If a cinderella story conference run isn't in the cards, at the end of the day, an ounce of pride may be the only thing these guys come away with this year.
Yesterday, members of the media were invited over to Tudor Fieldhouse for the first ever Media Day for Rice baseball. The highlight of the hour was Coach Wayne Graham, who was eager to share his thoughts on the upcoming season, some of which are enumerated below.
Much of Coach Graham's speaking time was devoted to pitching. Rice is generally a pitching-heavy program, so there are many questions this year regarding whether this staff will be strong enough. The pitching staff is certainly large, but will enough quality guys step up and perform?
On the extra focus on pitching
"We’re not going to get to Omaha without good pitching. You can’t. We may not have to have great pitching, but we’re going to have to have good pitching. So we’re going to continue to work every day toward that goal, without letting anything else go."
"We’re spending more coaching time in proportion this year than at any other time. We’ve got two people working on it—me half the time and Coach Pierce all the time. And I think it shows, with things like holding runners on, the development of the breaking ball, emphasis on strikes. We kind of converted toward a moving fastball as opposed to the overpowering fastball to try to get outs, put the ball in play, pitch to contact…it takes a lot of work to get that through to everybody. But if there’s any change in the way we coach, that’s it this spring: more emphasis on the things that you need the most."
Recent pitching standouts
"The pitcher that has been pitching better than anybody lately has been [Tony] Cingrani….The other junior college transfer, Boogie Anagnostou—what a name—he’s been pitching well, too, and we expect good things from Taylor Wall and a player that had Tommy John surgery last year, Anthony Fazio, has been pitching real well. Mark Haynes has come back pitching better than he’s ever pitched; there’s a lot of guys that are stepping up."
Having hitting rather than pitching be the strength
"I think we’re going to have to be consistently offense; in other words one through nine [in the batting order] we’re going to have to have quality at-bats because I think this is a team that could be shut out for four innings and then explode. And you’re going to have to have persistence and consistency to be that kind of team."
On freshman second baseman Michael Ratterree
"I think he’s going to get a lot of pitches to hit because right now he’s the leadoff man. Because he’s actually shown a remarkably—cross my fingers—good strike zone for a freshman. Remarkably good."
Strength of the defense
"We've got players that can make plays that, in my opinion, other teams can’t make. [Steven] Sultzbaugh has been outstanding in center field, he can run and he’s calmed down to the point where he never panics and can catch almost everything. And [Chad] Mozingo can run like the dickens, and [Michael] Fuda can run like the dickens. And then you’ve got that left side of the infield that should be outstanding. And Ratterree at second base is an extremely good athlete. And [Jimmy] Comerota’s a shortstop playing first base, enough said."
Like usual, the Owls have a tough schedule this year (starting at Stanford next Friday). There are still uncertainties on the pitching staff, but the offense and defense will be strong enough to overcome a lot. So with the solid intangibles and the wise Coach Graham at the helm, the sky is the limit.
The enthusiasm in Coach David Bailiff's voice was readily apparent as he sang the praises of the newest 16 members of the Rice Owls football team, as well as when naming new members of the Owls coaching staff. An old and a new face, in addition to David Beaty and John Reagan, who will serve as offensive coordinator and run game coordinator respectively, will join the Owls coaching staff. Chase Clement, whose passing exploits at Rice Stadium have hardly faded from Owls' fans memories, will join the staff as an offensive graduate assistant working with the quarterbacks, while former NFL Pro Bowler David Sloan will also join the Owls as a graduate assistant.
However, the new recruiting class was the cause for ceremony today, as Bailiff commented upon his staff fulfilling their task of recruiting individuals that will contribute not only on the gridiron, but also in the lecture halls as well.
“Some of them can help us next season. Each year we complete our mission of recruiting young men that will win championships and graduate.”
All 15 recruits are from the Lone Star State, and seven are from the Houston area, once again highlighting the benefits of a having a head coach with excellent ties to high school coaches all across the state. Three defensive backs, two defensive linemen, two linebackers, three offensive linemen, a running back, two wide receivers, a tight end, and two athletes, one of which will get a shot at playing quarterback
The smallest player (but the most highly touted as well) on the list of new Rice Owls is Bryce Callahan, a 5-10, 170 pound defensive back from Cypress Woods High School in nearby Cypress. Callahan was named to the First Team 5A All-State team by the Associated Press, and has two all-district selections to his credit as well. In addition to an eye-popping 136 tackles and 8 interceptions as a senior, he also scored two offensive touchdowns, and averaged over 25 yards on punt returns, thus proving to be a viable candidate to replace senior Andrew Sendejo at punt returner. Callahan was also named Honorable Mention Academic All State.
Gabe Baker, a 6-2 200 pound safety from MacArthur High in San Antonio, was unanimously named to All District 26-5A team as a senior, posting 89 tackles and one interception. Baker also was an officer in the school's chapter of the National Honor Society and a Second Team Academic All State selection.
Nico Carlson, a 6-3 270 pound defensive tackle from Katy Taylor High in Katy, joins fellow Katy resident and Rice defensive tackle, sophomore John Gioffre, as the other state wrestling champion on the Owls squad. He was a unanimous All District 17-5A selection, collecting 54 tackles and two forced fumbles as a senior
Drew Carroll brings the experience of a state champion to South Main, as the 6-4 280 pound offensive lineman from Abilene High School was a captain on the Eagles as they took the 2009 5A Division II Championship. He also is Second Team Academic All State and a member of the National Honor Society.
Jeremy Eddington played quarterback for Chisum High in Paris, but his 1,650 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns as a senior have Bailiff convinced that he will be featured as a running back in the fall. Eddington was named District 12-2A MVP, also being named to the All Red River Valley as a 6-2, 215 pound defensive end. Was a class officer his first two years of high school in addition to lettering in track and basketball.
Andy Erickson brings winning experience as well, starring on three Lake Travis High School state champion teams as a wide receiver, scoring an incredible 41 touchdowns as a senior to go along with 2,730 all purpose yards. He was named to Dave Campbell's Texas Football's 2009 All Texas High School Team and was Central Texas Player of the Year.
Erickson's teammate, Trevor Gillette, was a late afternoon addition to the Owls' class, ranked as the number two deep snapper in the nation, while starring as a 6-3 215 pound tight end. Gillette waited until just after 5 PM to fax his Letter of Intent in to the Owls' staff.
The behemoth of the recruiting class is Ian Gray, a 6-8, 325 pound offensive lineman from Pearland High School. Named to the Academic All District Team, Gray also plays basketball (currently averaging 11 points and 15 rebounds) and track for the Oilers, named to the Houston Chronicle's Houston 100. Gray would be the largest player on both the University of Texas and the University of Alabama, the two teams that played for the 2009 national championship. Bailiff talked about getting a player of Gray's size.
“He’s down to 325 from running the basketball court. I think Ian’s upside is absolutely tremendous. He can sit in the middle of a Suburban and open both doors at the same time, that's how long his arms are.”
Mario Hull, a former teammate of current Owl QB Taylor Cook at Rice Consolidated High School, caught 11 touchdown passes as a senior to go with 1,077 receiving yards. Hull also lettered in basketball, baseball, track, and golf.
Fred Jackson, a 5-11, 188 pound defensive back from Eisenhower High in Houston was named to the All District 19-5A squad, and served as team captain while being named the 53rd best safety in the nation by Rivals.com Jackson also shines in the classroom as well, finishing in the top 5% of his class, while being named Second Team Academic All State.
Dylan Klare played linebacker at Refugio High in Refugio, but Coach Bailiff will put his 6-3, 250 pound frame to use at defensive end. Named by Dave Campbell's Texas Football as one of the top 20 defensive linemen in Texas, Klare was a two-time Honorable Mention All State Team member, in addition to his District MVP award as a junior, along with a defensive MVP as a senior, and a state powerlifting championship as a junior. Klare also brings excellent leadership qualities, serving as the Bobcats' team captain for three years. In addition to his athletic prowess, Klare brings an impressive academic resume to Rice, as he will graduate as the class valedictorian, along with serving as a member of his school's computer science team that finished second at the state competition. He joins fellow defensive linemen, freshman Alex Lowry, as the two state power lifting champs on the roster
Cameron Nwosu is a 5-10, 223 pound linebacker from Klein Forest High school in Klein. Breaking three helmets in games his senior season, Nwosu is a fierce tackler, tallying 113 his senior year and 306 in his three seasons. He was named Defensive Player of the Year and MVP of District 13-5A as well.
Zach Patt was what Coach Bailiff called "a piece of the puzzle". The 6-2, 212 pound athlete served as Honey Grove High School's running back for three years, and was a All District 11-2A selection all four years of high school. Patt also was Academic All District.
James Radcliffe comes from nearby Cinco Ranch High School in Katy. He was Defensive MVP as a junior and a two-time All District 17-5A selection, in addition to being first on career and single-season tackles in Cinco Ranch history. Radcliffe is also a three-time member of the All-District Academic team.
Jordan Taylor is a 6-5 200 pound quarterback/athlete from Denison High School, who was named as 4A Region II Player of the Year, ranking as one of the top 20 athletes in the state by Dave Campbell's Texas Football. As a senior, he passed for 3,766 yards, 40 touchdowns, while running for 39 touchdowns and 2,500 yards during his high school career. He also plays baseball and runs track, along with being an Academic All State selection.
Justin Warren rounds out the class as a 6-4, 250 pound offensive lineman from Roosevelt High in San Antonio, who was named to the All-District 26-5A squad, along with being a Second Team Academic All State selection.