Recruiting Strategies

As we continue our look at Recruiting Strategies we focus on positions and the targets Rice is recruiting to fill them with for the Owl Class of 2008...

Here's a look at positional needs and recruit targets:

Quarterback - Take one every year - as long as he's athletic enough to play somewhere else if he doesn't progress upwards on the depth chart at QB. I like a guy who's about 6-2 200 with speed, 4.6 or better. Ideally sub 4.6. Rice has a commit from Baton Rouge QB Ryan Lewis. He visited Purdue recently but says he remains committed to the Owls. The Owls have other options if necessary – dual threat QB's Max Jenkins from Langham Creek and Waller's Jeremy Phillips have both produced big numbers by passing and running so far this year.

Running back - Two types here. A chain mover and the home run threat. If you're lucky enough to find both in the same guy like we did with Justin Hill then you've recruited well. Speed is what I'm looking for here - I don't care if the player is 5-7, the number "4.3" can change a game. I like to have a least one of each of a big back and also smallish back to keep a defense off balance. The little guys can be very effective in hitting a quick opening and sometimes can even "hide" behind the line. The Owls took 3 RB's last year so they don't have to take one in this class but might if an impact player wanted to commit.

Receiver - Ideally speed and size would come in the same package like we saw against UTEP's Fred Rouse. In the spread you need all types. Big possession guys who can block, fast but not necessarily big guys for the slot, and "number one" receivers who are a combination of it all. The Owls have a good "slot guy" committed in Roddy Maginot. We have several big receivers already on the roster - Toren Dixon, Pierre Beasley, Corbin Smiter - so we're in good shape there. You always want a big #1 guy - the Owls are recruiting several including Dishon Hughes (6-2 190 4.5) from Richardson Pearce, Coby Jones (6-0 195 4.5) from Allen, and Tyson Williams (6-0 190 4.5) from Aldine.

Offensive Line - with the Spread offense the emphasis has changed in what we look for in offensive linemen. We used to look for road graders now we have to have guys that are a little taller, for pass blocking. The simple strategy of recruiting taller guys is that they typically have longer arms to extend and keep defensive linemen from "getting into their numbers". A defensive lineman looks to get by an offensive lineman with a variety of techniques. For example a hard "Rip" move under the offensive lineman's arm gives the defensive lineman leverage to move the blocker. The longer the offensive lineman's arms the harder it is to execute moves like the "Rip" or the "Swim." I like recruiting big tight ends who can grow into left tackles, Kody Emmert is a good example at 6-6 260 and growing. I like tackles to be 6-4 or taller for their wing span. I like the interior guys to be around 6-3 for run blocking and, for QB visibility. We've got an excellent group of young offensive linemen. With Emmert and the rapid development of Scott Mitchell this year the Owls are in good shape - plus have Tyler Parish and Preston Thompson on the other side. We have two guys committed for 2008; if we add another I'm high on Evan Epstein from Dallas Bishop Lynch. IMO he can play any of the 5 OL positions, plays defensive tackle too, and is one of the top wrestlers in the state so he understands and can use leverage well. Other targets include players like Josh Parrish from Klein Collins, Josh Emshoff from Lufkin, Cory Dorris from Tulsa Jenks, and Kraig Bates from Centerville.

Tight End – finding big tight ends that run well is challenging. Rice found Grapevine tight end Taylor Wardlow on the way up – he was less than 200 pounds when he stepped on campus. Ideally a player who is around 6-3 and 235 and runs 4.7 or better is what I would look for. I really like guys about 6-4 240 who run 4.6 and play defensive end too. Problem is so does everyone else. The Owls have a commitment from Jared Williams (6-3 235 4.7) of Huntsville. I like Ben Bredthauer (6-5 225 4.73) from Stratford and Jackson Anderson (6-4 230 4.7) from Frisco too. Both are also excellent students.

Interior Defensive Line – probably the hardest position to recruit for "academic" schools. Leverage, strength and quickness are key. I'm not concerned so much about 40 times, as much as 10 yard times. For our interior we play a NG and a DT – or we line up in a base set where one man is in the "A" gap (NG) and the other is in the "B" gap on the other side (DT). A prototype Noseguard is built with a low center of gravity and very good at not only anchoring against the run but also collapsing the pass pocket. I like a guy who's 6-1 or 6-2 and 300 plus pounds. A quick first step, strength and leverage are key. The Owls have a commit from John Gioffre from Cinco Ranch. Gioffre is about 6-0 285 right now but is very active and plays up and down the line of scrimmage. At Defensive Tackle, the prototype changes a little as this player must play in space more frequently. I'd like a guy to be around 6-4 285 with a little more speed and more pass rushing skills than the NG. The Owls have a commitment from Michael Smith from Bay City. He's about 6-1 280, but is very quick and strong. Smith is explosive and also excels in the weight events in track. The Owls are recruiting several other prospects including Richard Cagle (6-5 265 4.9) from St. Pius, Bradley Campion (6-3 285 5.0) from Smithville, and Nick Adams (6-4 250 4.8) from Clear Lake.

Defensive End – the current group of Owl defensive ends is arguably one of the most talented groups the Owls have ever assembled at the position. The Owls don't flip-flop their ends, they play a right and a left. I'd like the ends in the 4 man front to be 6-2 to 6-4, around 250-260, and really explosive. A good shuttle time is also important for lateral quickness to the sideline. Scott Solomon and Cheta Ozougwu both run the 40 in less than 4.7. Rice has the lead for Waller defensive end Trevor Barry (6-4 215, 4.65) and is also recruiting Herbert Byrd (6-3 240 4.6) from Okmulgee, Okla.

Linebacker – Speed and athleticism are key to what the Owls do with their linebackers. Oh yeah, did I mention speed? The Owls only utilize 2 linebackers in their 4-2-5 defensive formation so they are unlikely to ever take more than a couple players at the position in any given year. Rice is led by Brian Raines, but has a very talented rotation in Terrance Garmon, Vernon James, and Robert Calhoun. Freshman Aaron Williams is Rice's biggest player at the position, possessing a prototype build of 6-3 225 pounds. Williams may grow into a defensive end played there Saturday against UTEP. One of the Owls most heralded recruits last year was Tanner Shuck, a pass rushing standout that will have to heal from injury before making his mark. The ideal for the Rice system is a player who's 6-1 or 6-2, around 225 – but must run like a safety. Rice is recruiting a select group of players for the position. Their targets include Allen Davis (6-1 220 4.51) from South Garland and Anthony Lewis (6-2 215 4.55) from Aldine.

Safety – 3 safeties, 3 types of players. Rice uses a Strong Safety, a Free Safety, and a Weak Safety (Kat) in their base defense. The Strong Safety is primarily responsible for run support. Andrew Sendejo is perfect for the position, though he's been forced to play Free Safety recently. The Free Safety plays "center field" and has mostly coverage responsibility. Chris Jones has the body type and speed to excel there but for now is adapting to the complexities of the 4-2-5 scheme while playing Strong Safety. The Weak Safety or "Kat" is a hybrid position – really a combination of three positions - weak side linebacker, strong, and free safety. The Owls have tried several players at the position – with Justin Abt and Joseph Leary having settled there recently. The Owls have a commit from Montgomery QB Xavier Webb (5-11 205 4.5) who will be tried at safety. They are recruiting several players at the position including Trevor Brazil (5-11 195 4.5) from Huntsville, Derrick Grant (6-3 195 4.5) from Austin LBJ, and Draylon Booker (6-1 185 4.4) from Conroe.

Cornerback – really good cornerbacks possess outstanding quickness and fluid hips; recovery speed is a luxury that rounds out the prototype. Taller guys usually have more difficulty with direction changes so the one's that possess this talent are recruited by everyone it seems. Ideally I'd like to have at least one cornerback that's 6-0 or bigger but again they are hard to find. My prototype is a guy that's 5-11 190, runs 4.4, has a vertical of 36", and a pro shuttle time of around 4.0 flat. Rice needs size and numbers at this position with Gary Anderson Jr. graduating and both Brandon King and JaCorey Shepherd being juniors. The Owls would like to sign at least 2 for the 2008 class and have their eyes on an excellent group that includes Jarrett Ben (5-11 165 4.4) from Garland, James Hamilton (5-9 180 4.5) from Cedar Hill, Royce Hill (5-11 175 4.5) from Cy-Ridge, Jayah Kaisamba (5-9 180 4.5) from Hurst Bell, Lyvell Marzett (5-9 175 4.45) from Killeen Shoemaker, Michael Thomas (5-11 185 4.4) from Aldine Nimitz, Johnny Thomas (6-0 180 4.4) from Texas City, and Julian Wagner (5-9 175 4.4) from Fort Worth Eastern Hills.

Punter/Kicker – with the new kickoff rule spotting the ball at the 30 yard line, more teams are offering scholarships to kickers. Clark Fangmeier returns as the Owls' "points" kicker and Clay Joseph was signed in May to be the punter of the future. The Owls offered two local products in Randy Bullock of Klein (Texas A&M commit) and Ryan Doerr of Katy (South Carolina commit), but missed on both. They are also looking at Ben Parks from Argyle.

The Owls will host many "official visits" as the season winds down - stay tuned for commits and visit updates...

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