Hebert Loves Family Atmosphere

There's a common theme in the sentiment that comes from the Rice Owl commits I've talked to. Almost to a man, they talk about the family atmosphere they feel coming from Rice and its coaches. Secondly, the coach they say projects that more than any other is none other than Head Coach David Bailiff...

I caught up to Klein HS offensive lineman Clay Hebert (currently 6-3 287) last week to discuss his commitment, his season, and his future at Rice. Hebert, like several other Houston area recruits who have already decided to continue playing their football at Rice, lists playing at home in front of his grandmother and the family atmosphere at Rice as main reasons he committed to David Bailiff's Owls. Here's some of our conversation…

You've been committed to Rice for quite a while now – tell me why you chose the Owls? "I really wanted to play football in Texas, so when Rice offered me it was a situation that I felt really good about and committed to them. My grandmother lives near Rice so I thought it would be neat for her to be able to see me play. She hasn't missed any of my games since I was playing pee wee football."

Sounds like family is very important to you? "Yes sir, one of the reasons I chose Rice was because of the family atmosphere. I really like Coach Bailiff. He's very genuine with his players and the guys all like and respect him. He's the kind of coach you want to play for."

Which coach recruited you? "I was recruited my Coach Tom Herman, the Offensive Coordinator. I first talked to Coach Miller (Rice OL Coach) about them offering me."

Do you talk to the coaches much? "When they could call I would talk to them every week. I'd usually talk to Coach Herman, then Coach Miller, and then I got to talk to Coach Bailiff. Coach Herman was out at my school last week too."

Did he come out to see you? "Well yeah but there's some other guys at my school he's recruiting also. I think they just offered Brian Moore. He had a real good season. He's been committed to Tulsa but other people are starting to recruit him too – Miami is one of them."

Is Rice recruiting anyone else on your team besides Moore? "Yes sir, they had offered our kicker Randy Bullocks. We have a defensive end that's a real good player. His name is Henry Koetzer, he's about 6-2 220."

Klein has several D-1 recruits, what is that like? "Well J.B. (Shugarts) is one of my best friends. He's committed to Ohio State, so we've had Coach Tressel come down to visit him. Coach ate dinner over at his house. We all got to meet Coach Tressel, which was cool – I didn't realize he was so short though."

With so much talent you guys are obviously disappointed not to still be playing? "Yes sir, we had some close games. We did beat Cy-Ridge, which is a loaded team with Russell Shepherd and Hasan Lipscomb."

What do like about playing offensive line? "I like to just wear the other guy out. My goal in every game is to make my man look bad when the team studies film. I want there to be no doubt of whipped who after the game."

In terms of where you'll play in college, Rice is recruiting you to play inside right? "My coach played me a lot at tackle this year. He would line me up based on where the other team's toughest linemen were. I played Strong Tackle so it was fun to get to play different positions. "So you think you might get to play tackle at Rice? "No sir, I told coach Herman I was playing tackle a lot and he just laughed and said, You're playing guard at Rice."

You played Katy early in the season did you get to talk to Eric Ball? Do you talk to any other recruits? "Yes sir, Eric and I talked for a little bit after the game. He's a real good player. He's real quick and I'm excited about playing next to him at Rice. He's a really good Center. I also talk to John Gioffre quite a bit. He's another good player. I tried to get him to come to some games with me but he (Cinco Ranch) had kind of a screwed up schedule with a lot of Saturday games."

Do you think you'll get to play early next year? "I don't know but I really hope I get to. Coach Bailiff called me after the Baylor game and said he felt like I could help the offense in the red zone. I don't know if I'll play but I'm reporting in June and I plan on being ready to go."

You went to most of the home games. What are your thoughts about your future at Rice? "I'm actually really excited. Rice had a chance to win almost every conference game. Coach Herman was telling me that the offense broke something like 16 records this season and also that every touchdown but 1 was scored by an underclassmen – which means they'll all be back next year. The offense should be really good. I think the defense is going to improve a whole bunch when they get everyone healthy. I think Coach Bailiff and the other coaches are building a program that will win in the future. I'm really fired up to be a part of that!"

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