Today we'll look at position groups that until recently weren't a big factor in Rice Offenses - Wide Receivers and Tight Ends.
Recruiting Class Comparison - Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Class of 2005
Ahmad Sweeney - 5-10 160 4.4, Fort Bend Hightower; John Welch - 6-2 183 4.5, Gautier, MS
Welch is a 2 year Letter winner (40" vertical) and heads into the 2008 season as a backup to Toren Dixon. Sweeney came to Rice as the holder of almost all receiving records at Hightower High School. He redshirted his first year in 2005, then was injured the year following. Both find themselves in a very competitive situation on the Rice depth chart.
Fast Forward: Current Height/Weight: Welch has changed very little physically, he's still 6-2 and weighs 185 pounds. Sweeney is also the same height at 5-10, but has gained 20 pounds, up to 180.
Class of 2006
Toren Dixon - 6-2 208 4.6, Baton Rouge (LA) Redemptorist; Evan Fentriss - 6-1 185 4.37, Southlake Carroll; Andrew Novak - 6-3 205 4.6, Ennis; Corbin Smiter - 6-2 210 4.39, Southlake Carroll; (TE) Kasey Nobles - 6-2 215 4.7, Lake Butler (FL) Union County; (TE) Taylor Wardlow - 6-5 207 4.79, Grapevine.
The Owls signed a bevy of pass catchers in this class as they transitioned from the Option offenses of Ken Hatfield to the Spread attack. Fentriss and Nobles transferred out after a year. Novak had to quit football because of a chronic foot problem. Smiter missed last season after a solid freshman campaign. Dixon and Wardlow have been solid starters.
Fast Forward: Dixon is 6-2 205, Smiter 6-2 210, Wardlow has made the biggest physical transformation after coming in as an undersized freshman - he's now 6-6 240.
Class of 2007
Fuda came to Rice from the powerhouse Katy Tiger Football program. His high school exploits including home run return abilities had Owl fans excited about his arrival. He would also play baseball at Rice. Unfortunately for football fans he never saw any game action after injuring his hamstring and redshirting in 2007. He recently announced he would concentrate on baseball only at Rice. Emmert also cam from a winning high school program - Liberty Hill was State Champion his Senior year. Emmert sat out 2007, redshirting after a shoulder injury. After a brief experiment at TE this past Spring, Emmert moved to Left Tackle.
Fast Forward: Kody Emmert is 6-7 270.
Class of 2008
Derek Clark - 6-3 180 4.6, Arlington Bowie; Roddy Maginot - 5-10 165 4.4, Arlington Bowie; Michael Patterson - 5-11 174 4.4, Rockwall; Denzel Wells -5-10 172 4.37, Cy-Falls; Jared Williams - 6-3 235 4.7, Huntsville; Luke Willson - 6-5 240 4.7, St. Thomas of Villanova, Lasalle, Ontario.
Possibly the strength of the 2008 class this group of pass catchers has gone right to work on the practice fields this summer. While all have made nice plays, particularly Denzel Wells, the Receivers could possibly all redshirt due to depth at the position. Jared Williams was moved to Defensive End upon his arrival to campus and has been a bright spot there already. Luke Willson reported late after playing baseball in Canada and may not contribute much this year.
Fast Forward: Clark measured 6-2 170, Maginot is about his listed height and weight of 5-10 165, Patterson is about 5-11 170, Wells is also 5-11 170. Jared Williams checked in at 6-3 219, but is up to almost 235. Willson weighed in at 6-6 233.
Class of 2009
Right there are no Receivers or Tight Ends in the class. "Grayshirt" Vance McDonald is 6-5 220, and is possible candidate at the position if he doesn't play Defensive End. Rockdale Linebacker Nic Hammett is another possible TE convert at 6-4 235 pounds. The Owls are recruiting some very talented WR prospects but none have committed at this point.
There you have it, a rewind of current Owl pass catchers. A couple of strong classes in the group, which do you think is or will be the best? Make your vote in the Owl's Nest forum...