Comparing The Classes: Running Backs

Rice Owls everywhere are excited about the Recruiting Class of 2009. The current commits give Rice one of its best hauls ever – in the first of a series we compare this year's class to the ones before it. Today we look at Running Backs…

Seldom have the Rice Owls been in the position they're in right now. It's early August and their class for February is virtually done. Previous staffs at Rice historically waited until December to begin the recruiting process, choosing a strategy of letting the big schools fill up then taking the remaining talent that was still available. The current staff hit the trail hard early on this spring and in a period of about 8 weeks this summer reeled in one stud player after another, to run its class nearly full with 15 commits. Some are calling this class the best ever at Rice, while it's very good, I'll let you form your opinion on that.

I thought a comparison of this group to the last 4 before it might be interesting to look at. Today we'll compare the Running Backs, starting with the Class of 2005. Though not in our comparison, I should mention that the Class of 2004 has been a very solid class – 8 of the 14 members that signed will be starters this year. Not so heralded at the time, Jarett Dillard is obviously now a permanent name in Rice Football history books. Of the 2004 Class, only Jonathan Carroll and Nathan Miller are no longer with the program. Luke Juist was a 4 year player that has already used his eligibility and Dietrich Davis is now a student assistant after being forced to give up the game as a result of injuries.

Recruiting Class Comparison - Running Back

Class of 2005

Trey Hopson – 5-10 216 4.6, Pascagoula, MS; C.J. Ugokwe – 5-9 191 4.6, Plano East; Tristan Thomas – 5-11 185 4.5, Fayetteville, AR; Marcus Knox – 5-10 190 Bellaire Episcopal; Christopher Douglas – 5-9 173, 4.5 FW All Saints' Episcopal

What looked like an impressive Running Back group dispersed rather quickly. Hopson and Thomas left school without playing a down. Chris Douglas is now a Cornerback. However, Ugokwe and Knox are currently in the rotation at Running Back. All three have lettered twice and are Redshirted Juniors heading into the 2008 season

Fast Forward: Current height and weights – Ugokwe is 5-11 215, Knox is 5-10 202, Douglas is about the same at 5-9 175.

Class of 2006

Robert Calhoun – 6-1 212 4.5, Duncanville

Though Calhoun came to Rice as a RB/LB, the "RB" part dropped from his official listed position quickly. He played Linebacker his freshman year and remains in the starting rotation there where he has excelled. Injuries are the only thing that have slowed him. He's got 2 letters and has a chance to become a 4 year Rice Letterman.

Fast Forward: Calhoun is now 6-1 225 pounds.

Class of 2007

Justin Hill – 5-11 200 4.5, Lake Dallas; Tyler Smith – 5-8 180 4.5, Cedar Park; Taylor Dupree - 6-1 214 4.6, Mesquite Poteet

Still has a chance to be an outstanding group. All 3 played extensively as Freshmen. Hill led all running Backs with 321 yards rushing. Smith's season came to a crashing halt against UTEP when his knee collided with the helmet of a UTEP defender on a kickoff return. He is currently rehabbing the knee and is ahead of schedule to return in 2009. Dupree played on all the Special Teams last year and practiced at Linebacker. He was moved back to Running Back in the spring. Hill and Dupree lettered while Smith was forced to take a redshirt year.

Fast Forward: Hill is 5-11 218 pounds, Dupree is 6-1 210, and Smith is 5-7 185.

Class of 2008

Shane Turner – 5-9 165 4.4, Houston Cy-Falls

Turner ultimately chose the Owls over Boston College and Northwestern. He was considered a 3 Star recruit and is extremely quick and shifty. Offers a different threat than the other backs on the Rice depth chart. His commitment to the Owls was considered one of the highlights in the 2008 class.

Fast Forward: Turner checked in around 160 pounds and is working to put mass on his frame.

Class of 2009

Charles Ross – 6-2 200 4.39, Schertz Clemens

Ross is a 3 Star recruit and considered the 64th best Running Back in the nation by Scout. His size and speed combination is one of the best in the country. Rushed for 1259 yards on 225 carries last year.

So there you have it – 5 years of Rice Running Back recruiting classes. Which one is your favorite? Go vote in the Owl's Nest…

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