When it was revealed that Austin Zouzalik did not accompany Ross Forrest in for his official visit to Rice this weekend. Owls from everywhere started calling an e-mailing me asking if there was "any way possible for us to still land" the super athlete. It didn't take our fans and alums long to embrace both he and Forrest as outstanding prospects we need to complete a jewel of a class.
I've received over a hundred phone calls wanting to discuss Zouzalik and Forrest's future. With Zouzalik it's been anything from "who's the last player we had at Rice with his speed?" or "could he play both ways for us?" or just downright depression over the thought of not having him in an Owl uniform. With Forrest, the calls have asked "can we get him to commit before anyone else discovers him?" and declarations like "Man, he's got the tools to be a BCS like player."
With the dead period quickly approaching, one fact still remains - Rice Owl fans and coaches alike are focused on getting fantastic players into our program. Coaches will tell you the last recruits in a class are just as important as the first ones. That can definitely be said about Zouzalik and Forrest. Weekend committments from them would put this class over the top in terms of quality.
Rice recruits players of quality character as much as they do athleticism. Here's a checklist of what Rice has to offer:
- One of the best educations in the country
- Small class sizes where professors know you
- A beautiful campus that offers a small town feel, yet nestled in one of the biggest cities in America
- A program committed to winning - from the AD Chris Del Conte to Coach David Bailiff and staff to the equipment managers - Rice is focused on building a championship football program
- A team comraderie second to none. Rice football players are high character athletes, they are the reason so many current Rice committments speak of the "Rice Family" as a reason they want to play football here
- Maybe most importantly, a Head Coach in David Bailiff, and a staff of coaches who have a genuine interest in the welfare of their players.
Here are just a few quotes from current recruits in the 2008 Class:
"Rice treated me like I was somebody, not a number like they do at the BCS programs, but a part of the team. The players were honest with me on my visit too and I appreciated that."
"When I set foot on campus it was like I never left, it felt like home."
"I chose Rice because I believe in what the coaches are doing. I think they have a plan that will have the team playing for championships very soon - I want to be a part of that."
As we await the decisions of these two outstanding players over the next couple days, let's realize what so many have declared before them, "It's a good day to be a Rice Owl!"