Rice coaches had Prior on their radar early this spring, perhaps before a lot of other schools, but it didn't take long for plenty of other schools to find the East Texas town of Henderson. And though he didn't show up on any Top 100 lists this spring he's quickly becoming one of the top LB prospects in East Texas this year. His Scout Combine performance in Dallas a few weeks back was one of the best by any linebacker in attendance and perhaps showed many coaches what Rice already knew. Shortly thereafter he received his first scholarship offer from Utah State. Last week Iowa State extended one. Monday he received another – from Coach Jason Washington and the Rice Owls.
"Rice offered me a scholarship. I like them but I haven't been down to check out their campus yet. I'll probably do that sometime soon."
I visited with Rice Defensive Coordinator Chuck Driesbach back during spring practices and asked him what he was looking for from his linebackers. "Two things really – a good football IQ and the ability to run. If a player has those things we can coach them to be good football players."
No surprise that Rice would offer Prior then. His speed is exactly the thing that's attracted so many coaches to Henderson this spring to check him out. I mentioned his Combine numbers – they were in the top 10% of all who attended: 4.56 seconds in the forty, 4.41 seconds in the shuttle (he told me he slipped on the grass surface when he tested for the shuttle). Prior also jumped 34" in vertical testing. Add a 320 pound bench press, and 450 pound squat, and the East Texas star is obviously a player with abundant athletic skills.
I asked Prior if he was ready to make a decision and he said "not quite." He added," Right now I'm hearing from a lot of schools. Northwestern said they were going to offer, so has North Texas and SMU. Oklahoma State has been by the school too. It's nice to have so many schools interested in me but I don't really have a decision made yet. I'm going to wait a little longer to see who offers and then weigh out my options."
While Prior plays outside in Henderson's 3-4 defensive front, it doesn't make any difference what scheme or position he plays in college. "I don't care where they put me. There are alignment differences, but football is football –really I just want to play."
Rice is looking to sign a couple linebackers in the 2009 – they offered Prior and also Trey Briggs of Jersey Village. They've also been in regular contact with Jarek Lancaster of Helotes O'Connor. All three have seen their stock rise in recent weeks.
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