Thursday Tidbits

Catching up with the 2008 Signees, Baseball, and Recruiting in today's Tidbits...

Owl Tidbits...

- - The Owls appear to have gained a fantastic coach in Dan Hammerschmidt. The Owls haven't played a game since his arrival but his Receivers have performed well in Spring Drills. Credit has to go to Tom Herman and the rest of the offensive staff as well, but I've seen the offense do a lot of new things this spring. At the least, his experience as an Offensive Coordinator at Colorado State adds to an already talented group of thinkers on offense. Hammerschmidt came highly recommended by respected members of the national coaching community, but also got a pretty good endorsement from current Rice RB's Coach Darrell Patterson. How did Patterson have such good insight on the coach? He worked with Hammerschmidt's brother Jeff, while at Stanford. Jeff Hammerschmidt was Special Teams Coordinator while Patterson coached Linebackers. "Hammer" just took the same position on Mike Stoops' Arizona Wildcat staff…

- - I spoke to Rice signee Jarrett Ben last night at his Garland home. (Ben has the rare distinction of going from one Owls team – Garland – to another.) Anyway, I asked Ben what he was doing to prepare for football at Rice. He told me he is lifting and running track – he competes in the 100 and 200 meters, and the 4 x 100 and 4 x 200 relays. He's following the strength and conditioning program he received from Rice and hopes to gain a little weight before arriving in Houston in June. Jarrett told me he weighs "about 168" right now. He said he's been working out at Lifetime Fitness and specifically trying to gain upper body strength. With track he is limited in his lower body workouts. Ben has been electronically timed at 10.74 100 meters this spring – which is about a 10.5 second clocking hand timed. Ben will be running at the Texas Southern Relays this weekend, and will also run the 200 meters for the first time this spring, an event he ran in 21.65 seconds last season…

- - The Rice Baseball team has found its stroke at the plate this week, hammering in 58 runs in the last 5 games for a healthy 11.6 runs per game average. The Owls travel to West Virginia this weekend to take on Marshall in C-USA action. Marshall is 8-8 on the year after finishing in the C-USA cellar last season. The Herd is led by the hitting of Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week Nate Lape. The junior center fielder leads Marshall in every offensive category and is hitting .509 with 8 home runs on the year. The Owls will play 3 in Charleston this weekend starting with Friday's 6:00 pm (CST) contest…

- - Speaking of baseball, Rice signee Anthony Rendon is tearing the cover off the ball. As printed here earlier in the week he entered the week leading the Houston area in batting with a .643 average. Another signee, incoming Rice Football pledge Ryan Lewis is also having a great early season. Lewis is playing right field and pitching. The lefty is 3-0 on the hill. More impressive are the 6 Home Runs Lewis has hit this year. The Minnesota Twins have noticed and have asked to come by the Lewis home next week. Before everyone gets excited, I talked to Ryan last night and he is very much focused on Rice at this point. Also he told me he talked with Coach Blake Miller Tuesday night, and plans to report to school for June 2nd classes. Lewis' father e-mailed recently and had this to add, "If he does get drafted I'm sure it will not be enough money to give up a scholarship to Rice". Hopefully both Rendon and Lewis land in Houston for the next 4 years...

- - I checked in on Vance McDonald recently to follow up on his scheduled March shoulder surgery. Like many others, McDonald is participating in track this spring and has decided to wait on surgery until after track. Vance is competing in the Triple Jump and also running the relays for East Chambers. He qualified for Regionals last year in the Triple Jump so the news that he wants to compete in his Senior season of track shouldn't be taken as a surprise. His surgery will require 6 months of rehab, which places recovery from an April surgery in October – two months before he is to report to Rice. The fact that he wants to compete is a quality I think Rice welcomes in an athlete, no?…

- - I caught up with Michael Patterson this week too. When I spoke to him last night he was on the way back from a Spring Break trip. South Padre, Breckenridge? Nope – Austin. Michael is really into Frisbee Golf and he took a trip down to the Capitol City to play several Frisbee Golf courses there. We talked for several minutes and he mentioned that he too was running track, mostly relays. He's also lifting a lot right now trying to get stronger before he report in June. He benches about 275 right and squats 400 – pretty good for a guy who only weighs 175. When asked, Patterson mentioned a teammate at Rockwall as a Rice target - junior Offensive Tackle John Noble. He's in the top 10% of his class and is a classical pianist. Nobel is 6-5 290, and is gaining interest from a list of schools. He wants to study music in college…

Go Owls!!!


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