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.