Position Notes - WRs

Jarett Dillard won't sneak up on anybody this year. In fact, after his success in 2006 Dillard will probably have defenses schemed specifically to stop him. The Owls will need other receivers to step up this year as we discuss practice, new faces, and recruiting...

I've watched the receivers for several practices now. Here are some notes:

A true freshman is making a name for himself at wide receiver - and it's not Michael Fuda. It's walk on Jaimin Shah from New Braunfels Canyon HS. Shah has good size (6-1 195) and just keeps making catches. Rice was recruiting Shah before he broke his ankle early last season - derailing recruiting for him. He was listed as a 4.47 forty guy before the injury, but timed slower at the recruiting combines. His shuttle time of 4 seconds flat is terrific, and his 32" verticle jump will increase once Yancy gets to spend time with him. He was All-District as a junior and ran on the track relay teams. The more reps he gets, and with other guys dinged up at the position right now he will, the more he's giving the coaches something to think about. I like him.

On the foot/ankle injury that happended to Joel Armstrong Saturday night at the stadium.. I saw the play when this happened. He landed on his foot awkwardly as a defender (and his weight) came down on top of him. He got up real slow and limped back to the huddle. Didn't act like it was that big of a deal when it happened though. I guess we'll wait to see what the MRI shows. I didn't want to post this because sharing injury information is a big "no no" with the coaches. Seems everyone knows now so here we are. As much as I hope this is nothing major, especially for Joel, who has done whatever he's been asked to do at Rice, it's a chance for some young guys to make their contribution. Right now several sophomores need to step up: Guys like Jeramy Goodson and Ahmad Sweeney who were both injured last year have the speed to provide another dimension to the Owls spread attack. John Welch is another sophomore who has all the tools to shine. All 3 have had good practices so far. Rice's own version of a Power Trio returns in the form of Corbin Smiter 6-2 210, Toren Dixon 6-2 207, and Andrew Novak 6-3 207. All started games last year. Add to that Pierre Beasley at 6-3 217 and Rice has some of the biggest receivers in C-USA. Anyway back to Joel's injury, it has everyone talking about who now will take the double teams off of Jarett Dillard. Pierre's name keeps coming up. Let's be realistic. I think Pierre has the potential to be really good if he learns the nuances of the position. I know one thing he's working really hard at it. He has serviceable speed but is not blinding fast. He was clocked in the 4.6s coming out of high school – but I think everyone assumes he's a 4.4 guy. Point is, I think he can be productive if used the right way, which I trust Tom Herman will do, but he's not going to draw deep help from a safety by blowing past guys on a streak…

Speaking of JD, while I'd be surprised if Jarett leaves after this year it's still possible. If the Owls have a super year, say 8 wins, another bowl game, and Dillard repeats his production from last year, he's gone in my opinion. The risk of staying would be too high, especially if he's already got his degree.

Recruiting Needs: Simple: speed at the receiver position. I think we've got a very nice compliment of receivers, quick guys in the slot, big possession guys, and then there's Jarett who's a combination of all things wonderful at the position but may be presented with a tough decision by the NFL. IMO, what we really lack is blinding speed - guys who run 4.3 who can stretch the field. Because of that, I think we need to take a couple receivers this year in our limited recruiting class. Remember when these guys get to campus we'll have 6 receivers who are Juniors. We are recruiting several receivers (check the database) - not many left on the board are burners though.

The Owls have a commitment from Xavier Webb, a QB at Montgomery (TX) High. At 5-11 Webb hasn't gotten a lot of DI interest at QB. The coaches will give super athlete Webb a chance to play many positions - WR may be one of them. Webb doesn't get caught on the field much but hasn't clocked below 4.5. The Owls still need a real 4.3 guy to keep safeties honest in my opinion though. One other local prospect I like is Joshua Wilson from Humble - he's about 6-0 175 right now and has clocked some 4.4's. He's also timed an eye popping 3.98 shuttle and has a 38" vertical. Those numbers tell me he has "quick twitch" genetics, and could get real fast working with Yancy. We're trying to run down Joshua for an update on him...

More notes on other positions later…


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