Rice got an outstanding coach when it hired Dan Hammerschmidt - find out what he brings to the staff and the latest on Chris Oguayo in this week's Tidbits...

- The Owls hiring of Dan Hammerschmidt this week fills the vacant Rice WR Coach's position. The Owls interviewed several capable candidates but decided he was the best fit for a variety of reasons. In summary, strengths of Hammerschmidt include a high level of intensity and a very experienced offensive mind. Hammerschmidt was Wide Receivers Coach for 5 years, then Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach another 7 years at Colorado State. The Texans' David Anderson and Bradlee Van Pelt are two of Hammerschmidt's pupils. Colorado State also has a pair of receivers who are 2008 NFL Draft prospects this year in Luke Roberts and Johnny Walker. You may ask why all his experience is so important when he will "only" be a position coach? First, he may have a position coach's title but Coach Bailiff wouldn't bring a guy in with his resume and not plan to use his coordinator's experience to help the offense. In fact, hiring a coach with coordinator's experience was a preference for Rice in adding the right coach to our staff. He obviously brings instant depth to our offensive group. With his experience he sees things like protections, route placements, quarterback and receiver reads, defensive tendencies and a variety of other dynamics to our offense. He will be invaluable as we game plan each week and also at half time when we're adjusting to opposing defenses. He's been described to me as a "throwback" coach - a coach that has a lot of intensity and grit and will expect a lot from his players. I expect Jarret Dillard and our talented group of young receivers to flourish under his tutelage. I'm extremely high on this hire - I think his addition will only make us a better offensive team. Coach Bailiff offered this on his hiring," "We hit a home run with the hiring of Dan. During his interview, it was obvious that he was on the same page in terms of where we are going and we are lucky to have him join us. He also did a great job of recruiting in Texas, and that also fits right in with the focus of our future efforts." Welcome to Rice coach!

- As was mentioned here last week, Blinn JC DE/LB Chris Oguayo is visiting the Rice campus this week. He made the trip in yesterday and met with coaches, and also had the opportunity to talk with several of the players. "The coaches and players are real close knit and were up front with me. I really like that." Oguayo is still on campus and is scheduled to continue his visit through today. Oguayo brings the rare potential to help us at two positions - a pass rusher with a 79" wingspan and 4.68 speed; and as a 245 pound linebacker, which gives us more size at the position. I'll have more details later on his thoughts and the outcome of his visit.

- Last week we started a discussion on position groups as we lead up to the start of Spring Drills. Practice is set to begin March 10. We started last week with the defensive line, specifically the Noseguard position. This week let's talk about the Defensive Tackle position. The Defensive Tackle position plays in the "B" gap or between the Offensive Guard and Offensive Tackle. He can align anywhere from an outside shade of the Guard to head up on the Offensive Tackle depending on strength of the offensive formation. Since there are so many variables on alignments let's keep the discussion limited to personnel. After losing George Chukwu to graduation the Owls will obviously have a new starter at the position for the first time in years. Chukwu was a very steady player for the Owls and this spring will be important for the candidates looking to fill his shoes. A player the staff feels has a lot of potential is Cameron Thompson. Cameron is up to 290 pounds now after reporting to Rice at about 270. He is generously listed at 6-0 tall but height aside he's an explosive player. The tackle position in our scheme requires this - a quicker more explosive player verses the hold the point of attack and disrupt abilities of the noseguard. While having all 4 linemen possessing pass rush skills is ideal, the ideal Defensive Tackle usually has more of these abilities. Back to Thompson, he is very strong in the lower body and is very quick off the ball. He proved he could get to quarterback in high school at Cedar Hill and would have played more extensively last year if not for being slowed with injury problems during August. He's one to watch. Another candidate for playing time at the position is Victor Brooks. Brooks missed last spring with an injury but worked his way into the rotation last fall. He came to Rice with a basketball player's build, originally to play DE. Our defensive philosophy has changed with coaching changes, requiring a little more speed off the edge at DE, thusly Brooks has moved inside. I like Brooks inside because he's fast for a Defensive Tackle. I think the move is a good one for him. He's experienced an has some talent, but like others he's struggled with injuries since arriving at Rice. At 265, he could use 10-15 pounds to better handle the trench warfare. A player very similar to Brooks in build is Chance Talbert. He's coming back to defense after spending two years playing TE and no one is more excited about the move than him. He came to Rice as a defensive lineman and has been itching to get back on that side of the ball. He get's his chance this spring and even though he weighs below 270 right now because of playing on the basketball team, he will have no problem getting back to the 290 pounds he weighed while playing TE last year. For Talbert to win a spot he will have to be able to play with a lower center of gravity than he's been used to at TE. If he does pick up the technique he needs to excel at Defensive Tackle, he brings good quickness with his 6-5 290 size. Time will tell, but the possibilities are exciting. Todd Mohr is another returning player with experience. Mohr is 6-2 295, so he's definitely big enough to handle the spot but will need to continue to impress to gain time in the rotation. Mohr has also had his share of injury struggles. Many of you have asked about RS-FR Brian Stacey, who was Defensive MVP of his district at Klein Oak high school here in Houston. He is recovering from surgery and may be limited in Spring Drills. Stacey is talented but may need a little time to get healthy before becoming a regular in the rotation. It wouldn't surprise me at all if the last name mentioned here is in the starting rotation by the season opener. Michael Smith got little attention playing down in Bay City (which was just fine by the coaches) but has a huge upside at Rice. The coaches are very high on him and feel he's got the talent to compete for a starting spot as a freshman. Smith earned an offer last summer by basically being unstoppable in one-on-one pass rush drills at a Rice Football Camp. He throws the shot in track and is a very quick and explosive player. He goes about 275 right now, but will likely be around 280-285 this fall. We'll be watching his development closely this August.

- I hope to see all of you at the Night of the Iron Owl next week. The event will be held next Wednesday February 27 at the John L. Cox Fitness Center located at the South end of Rice Stadium. The excitement starts at 7:00 pm. I spoke to Yancy McNight recently and he expects that we'll have as many as 15 Owls bench pressing over 400 pounds by the end of the evening. An even more impressive statistic is the number of Rice Owls that can power clean over 300 pounds - almost 40 players! The power clean combines an explosive technique using the arms, back, shoulders, hips and legs. It is considered by strength and conditioning professionals to be a more accurate indicator of practical football strength. Yancy also shared an interesting bit of information on Jarret Dillard's team leading vertical jump of 42". "Last year after Jarret hit 42" everybody kind of went wild and we just stopped. In talking to Jarret afterwards he said he thought he could go even higher. I think's he capable of possibly hitting 44"." Another quick thing on Jarret, he ended the season last year weighing only 169 pounds - he's up to 185 now - but incredibly can power clean almost 340 pounds!

Here are some more of Yancy's "Success Stories"-

Going up...

Chris Jones - reported to Rice at 178 - now weighs 201

Tanner Shuck - reported to Rice at 208 - now weighs 224

Patrick Randolph - reported to Rice at 150 - now weighs 171

Cheta Ozuogwu - reported to Rice at 227 - now weighs 250

Kody Emmert - reported to Rice at 244 - now weighs 261

Jake Hicks - reported to Rice at 261 - now weighs 288

and Coming Down...

Davon Primus - reported to Rice at 345 pounds - now weighs 310

Tyler Parrish - reported to Rice at 294 - lost down to almost 270 - back up to 290

Go Owls!

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