Such was the case just before Christmas when Owl coaches received a visit from Arlington Lamar QB Michael Poynter.
Poynter made the trip down to Houston with his dad to look Rice coaches straight in the eye and tell them he was coming to Rice.
Poynter had been invited to walk-on to Rice and decided that above the other options he had, which included FCS offers and another from Penn; coming to Rice as a walk-on was the best choice for him. And rather than phone the news in, he came all the way from Arlington to give Coach David Bailiff his word, and his handshake, that he would attend Rice.
Michael Poynter is a "Rice kind of guy". And to say that Poynter is a young man unafraid to take the path less travelled is an understatement. He's extremely intelligent, confident in his decision making ability, and focused on his future.
Rather than accept scholarships to "anywhere that would pay his way", Poynter decided that he would stick to his goals: education first, Division I football, and staying in Texas to go to school.
When it came down to it, Rice was the perfect fit. Even if it meant he would have to walk-on to the football program.
"I've never been afraid of hard work. My dad instilled that value into us at an early age. My brother (Ben) also walked-on in college, he ended up starting at SMU." Cousin Tommy Poynter also played for the Mustangs.
Michael's father Jim was an Ivy League Offensive Lineman himself at Penn. The Quakers also came calling for Michael this fall but he decided Texas was, and will be, his home.
"I want to live and work in Texas after I've graduated from college. It really didn't make sense for me to go away knowing I would come back here. I think I'll get an Ivy League education anyway, right here in Texas at Rice."
While academics were a key factor in Poynter's decision to come to Rice, the football team's Spread Offense was also attractive.
Fact is both sides are winning here - Poynter is a very good Quarterback prospect. The Owls aren't just getting another body to hold a clipboard - Poynter has legitimate Division I skills.
The road to Rice started out with the Owls being on Poynter's "wish list" of about 10 schools last spring. He got the chance to impress Owl coaches later that spring when David Bailiff held one of his Rice Football Camps last summer at Poynter's high school - Arlington Lamar.
Afterwards, Bailiff spoke with Poynter's Coach, Eddy Peach, and told him he liked what he saw. However, the camp was all Rice had to go on at that point. There was no junior film - Coach Peach's long standing practice has been to start only seniors at Quarterback. So the two sides stayed in touch. Poynter did his part with a solid senior season:
- QB of all ten regular season games; 5-5 on season. Dual threat QB completing 112-191 attempts for 1680 yards (59%) and 10 TD's and 7 int's.
- Had 2,075 total yards and led District 4-5A in scoring by QB with 68 points (11 TD's and a 2-point conversion) while rushing for 395 yards in 90 attempts (4.39 yards/carry).
- Led team to highest total yards in District at 420 yards per game. The Offense he directed had the top rusher and receiver statistically in District.
- First Team All-District (4-5A) Quarterback as selected by District Coaches
- Selected one of the Team Captains of the 2008 Lamar football team
After the season, Michael contacted Rice and learned that they wanted him as one of a few select "preferred" walk-ons.
Poynter hadn't totally made up his mind yet but was very interested in Rice and would visit Houston soon therafter.
A coach from Poynter's district was also intrumental in Poynter heading to Rice. Arlington Bowie Coach Kenny Perry gave Poynter a glowing endorsement to longtime friend and Rice Head Man David Bailiff. He also gave Michael a pretty good endorsement on Coach Bailiff. That endorsement would prove quite accurate a few weeks later when Poynter visited Rice for the first time.
"Coach Bailiff was just a really genuine person. He makes everyone feel like they are the most important people in the world. He's honest and straight-forward. I can't say enough about how impressed I was with him at that meeting."
And so the decision would come a few weeks later.
Though he's technically going to be a non-scholarship player starting out at Rice. I don't see the 6-2 190 pound Poynter as such at all. And neither does he.
"I plan to go to Rice to compete for the starting Quarterback's job. I know I'll have to work hard - and I may have to wait for my time. I'm excited about the opportunity to join such a great program - and blessed to be playing football for another 5 years."
Welcome to Rice Michael!