Rice Gains Canadian Standout

The Rice coaching staff is showing a penchant for hard work - and the results so far have been pretty rewarding. The latest return on their efforts is yet another talented prospect from North of the Border…

The Rice Owl defense got a big boost this weekend when French-Canadian Arnaud Gascon-Nadon joined the team. Gascon-Nadon is a Defensive End from Montreal and has played prep school football most recently with the Vieux-Montreal Spartiates, which is a CEGEP or Collège d'enseignement général et professionnel, or College of General and Vocational Education. A CEGEP is essentially a prep school by American standards. By virtue of that fact, and though he is already 20 years old, Arnaud enters Rice as a freshman with full eligibility remaining – he will have 5 years to play 4.

Gascon-Nadon is a fantastic athlete. He checks into Rice at a college ready 6-4 240 pounds and has been timed at 4.65 in the 40 yard dash. He has also recorded a pro shuttle agility time of 4.05 seconds. He's got tremendous explosion: a 34" vertical leap and a 10'3" standing broad jump. He also punted for his Vieux-Montreal team.

Canadian football players often attend prep school after high school so their recruitment process works a little differently than most football players in the U.S. In March of this year Gascon-Nadon sent his tape to Rice and a host of other schools to essentially start the recruiting process. Rice coaches were assisted in Gascon-Nadon's recruitment through his relationship with fellow countryman and current Rice LT Scott Mitchell. Both played on Team Canada, which is the country's most elite All-Star football team. Gascon-Nadon played on the team in both 2006 and 2007. Arnaud stayed in touch with Mitchell and as a result Rice became a school of interest for the Canadian.

Now you may ask "why the delay in his arrival?"

Simple. Like I mentioned he's been going through the recruiting process – just like any other athlete they hope to bring to Rice, Owl coaches had to recruit him hard to gain his services. But boy are they glad they did.

In short Arnaud is a big time prospect.

I mentioned that other schools were involved in Gascon-Nadon's recruitment. Two of those schools were from BCS Conferences: the Big East and the SEC. Louisville and Tennessee both offered him a scholarship, pending roster openings. Turns out neither have had developments that made room for Arnaud. In an unfortunate situation that has worked out for the good of the team Rice has, with the recent announcement that Will Shoppa would have to give up football.

Arnaud's arrival comes at the perfect time for Rice coaches concerned about depth at the DE position. As mentioned Will Shoppa's departure from football, combined with Kramer Lucio's injury problems have put the Owls in a very shallow position of depth behind Scott Solomon and Cheta Ozougwu. Gascon-Nadon would ideally be red shirted but due to his talent, lack of depth at the position, and to a lesser degree his age – he will be counted on to contribute this fall.

The exciting thing about Gascon-Nadon is that he has a really big frame – yet already weighs 240 pounds. We can all reasonably expect that his time with Yancy McKnight will produce yet another explosive football athlete for the Owls. Arnaud could reach 6-4 265 in a fairly short period of time.

He becomes the 4th Canadian player on the Owls Roster – Scott Mitchell, Stefan Nazar, Luke Willson, and Gascon-Nadon.

He will count against the 2009 scholarship limit of 25 players. The Owls won't sign anywhere near that, so the fact is not an issue.

Bienvenue Arnaud!

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