Owls Hit Daily Double

Rice landed two big time commits Tuesday. They made one coach in particular very happy... Read More Below In The Owl Digest Insider.

Nobody on the Rice campus had a bigger smile on his face today than Tight Ends/Special Teams Coach Rick Lafavers. Christmas came twice this year for Coach Lafavers. The gifts? Two huge commits for positions he coaches. The Owls gained verbals from Spearfish, S.D. Punter Kyle Martens and also from Lasalle, Ontario Tight End Luke Wilson. Both had visited Rice previously in January and decided after looking around at a few BCS schools that things looked pretty good at Rice.

I spoke to Martens on Monday night and he had narrowed his choices to Rice and Kansas. He had an in home visit from Kansas coaches last night. He had a real good idea of what awaited him at Rice - Kansas not so much. After the coach left he called Coach Rick Lafavers and gave him the news.

"I told him I wanted to be the next punter at Rice. He was real excited - he was hootin' and whooping and just told me how glad he was to have me joining the program."

Kyle added, "It's just an honor to be able to play football at a school like Rice. I'm really looking forward to getting down there and contributing my best to the program. I think the coaches are doing a great job of bringing in some really talented players. I'm excited to be a part of it."

Martens is 6-6 and 190 pounds. He's played other positions on his team along with basketball too so he's pretty athletic. Hopefully he won't have to use that as much as Luke Juist did last year. "Coach Lafavers was kidding with me on my visit, showing me the special teams tackles and asking me if I liked to hit. He said he didn't want another punter leading the team in special teams tackles."

Martens' stock really took off at the recent Chris Sailer Kicking Camp in Las Vegas. Sailer has him ranked as a 5.0 recruit - the highest ranking he gives. He is the 4th best high school punter in the nation according to Sailer. " Kyle has all the tools to be a special punter. He is big, tall, and strong and is becoming a consistent force. Has shown that he can hit balls well into the 5.0+ range. Is going to be an outstanding D1A Punter."

Ultimately, Kyle chose Rice over offers and interest from UNLV, Stanford, Toledo, and Kansas. He is an outstanding punter but also averaged over 90% touchbacks on his kickoffs.

The other big news Tuesday came when Lasalle (Ontario) St. Thomas of Villanova Tight End Luke Wilson (6-5 240 4.75) gave his commitment to Coach Darrell Patterson. Wilson had visited Rice on an official visit the weekend of January 11th. He definitely made an impression on another recruit on his visit - Baton Rouge QB Ryan Lewis. "We joked about playing together and how I needed a big target in the offense. Luke was a real big guy with big hands. He looks like he'll be a great player."

Wilson, like many other prospects from Canada has played a lot of Junior League hockey. He has played mostly Forward on the ice - a testament to his athleticism and speed. He has lined up mostly at WR at Villanova so he'll have to get used to playing with his hand on the ground. He has a huge upside though.

Others noticed that upside too. He was being recruited as a Defensive End by some. He took an official visit to Stanford last weekend and had been recruited by Washington State as well. Wilson's commitment gives the Owls the luxury of moving Chance Talbert to Defensive Tackle. Wilson will be the third Canadian on the Rice team - joining Scott Mitchell and Stefan Nazar as fellow Canucks on the team. Both he and Nazar were selections on the 2008 Top 20 High School Prospects in Ontario list.

The Owls will host several prospects this weekend including current Owl commits Eric Ball and John Gioffre.

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