HOUSTON (CBS-Houston) – Owl’s Head Football Coach David Bailiff said last week that he was looking for young men making 50-60 year decisions about their academic and athletic futures in regards to Wednesday’s National Signing Day. Well, Rice received 24 commitments from student-athletes who made such a decision. The Owls signed 19 in 2011, so their numbers from year to year are growing.
Twenty-one of the 24 recruits are from Texas, while one is from Alabama, the other from Georgia. The Owls also signed a junior college transfer in Nate Richards who had initially signed with Central Arkansas. But after one season, he transferred to Trinity Valley JC.
According to Bailiff, Richards will make an immediate impact at center where seniors Eric Ball and Keshawn Carrington will graduate this summer. Bailiff also stated that this is the fastest class he’s recruited in his 5 seasons as Head Coach.
“You look at the issues we’ve had. It’s usually the speed issue,” says Bailiff. “We’ve got to continue to get faster. You know the game has changed so much with the spread. You almost need to play anymore with 4 corners. That’s how the game is evolving and we’ve got to keep up with the game.”
ATHLETIC & ACADEMIC
While Bailiff says this 2012 class is the fastest he has recruited while at Rice, the class stands a chance to rival some of the smartest ever recruited. Eighteen are either members of the National Honor Society or Academic All-State. The best part is, they can play football and add skill to an existing class that showed promise at the end of last season.
“I think it’s a class that gives us some immediate depth,” says Bailiff. “But, there’s also some very fine athletic young men that I think are physically ready to go right now that (if) they come here this summer, they can compete for a little playing time. I don’t know who. But, I know I’m excited.”
HONOR & COMMITMENT
Twenty-three of the twenty-four recruits will have an opportunity to play college football. David Wilganowski, the defensive end from Bryan Rudder will not. During the 4th quarter of a high school Friday night game against Leander Rouse, the senior collapsed on the field and had to undergo CPR at Merrill Green Stadium.
According to Bailiff, Wilganowski will not be cleared to play simply because the cause of his condition has not been found. However, Rice and Bailiff kept their word to honor their scholarship commitment. Therefore, Wilganowski will attend Rice University.
“When you ask a young man to commit to you and he’s done that, I think it’s just part of keeping your word to people and we ask young men to keep their word to us. You know we say we’re going to be there through thick and thin. I think it’s a good practice that you keep your word.”
“I can’t imagine being that young man and that family living through what he is going through, and then having the University that he’s committed to say, sorry. We’re not going to do business that way!”
THE 2012 OWLS RECRUITING CLASS
So the Owls move forward with their new 2012 recruiting class. Click on the link to see the names. The upcoming season could be a big year for the Rice Owls.