The strategy paid off as 5 more extremely talented football players pledged to join Coach David Bailiff's Rice Football Owls in the past two days.
Needing help at certain strategic positions due to departures from the 2008 team, the Owls added players at each of those spots.
Defensive Tackle Hosam Shahin, Cornerback Tolu Akinwumi, Kicker Chris Boswell, Cornerback/Kick Returner Kevin Gaddis, and Quarterback Taylor McHargue all gave verbal commits to Coach David Bailiff this weekend.
As mentioned, several prior 2009 commits also visited this weekend; and those players really supported the efforts to land additional talented players in their class.
"The weekend was really great. The committed guys clicked with the new recruits and we all hung out with players already at Rice. They (current Owls) really sealed the deal for everyone. There are so many good guys at Rice; character guys you can trust and become immediate friends with - guys you want to go to war with. I wish I was already there," said long time Owl commit and weekend visitor Paul Porras of Scottsdale Saguaro.
That sentiment was obviously a popular one as Rice added several more verbals over the weekend. Here's a brief capsule on each of the new Owls...
Tolu Akinwumi - the extremely athletic Akinwumi committed to Coach David Bailiff on Saturday. He will be tried at Cornerback initially because of his superior athleticism. Tolu (pronounced toe-low)is seeing his stock rise significantly - he got 3 calls from recruiters this weekend while on his visit; including one from Northwestern. Hails from Brampton, Ontario.
Chris Boswell - Chris is the strong legged Kicker the Owls have desperately needed. On 44 kickoffs this year he hit half of them out for touchbacks. Has twice been named All-State and will have a chance to be a 4 year starter for the Owls. Comments from Chris on his commit: "There was just so much focus on family and graduating at Rice. Everyone is really nice there. I'm done with recruiting."
Kevin Gaddis - we weren't entirely sure Gaddis would be coming in this weekend because of reports Friday that he had committed to Wyoming. Kevin indeed came to Rice this weekend, accompanied by his parents and quickly became a favorite of everyone. Though he's not that big at 5-8 160 pounds, Gaddis is an above average Kick and Punt Returner. He will play Cornerback for the Owls and should boost Special Teams with his sub 4.4 second 40 yard dash speed.
Hosam Shahin - seems Rice Running Backs Coach Darrell Patterson, a former CFL player himself, finds one good Canadian prospect after another. Shahin is another gem. Hosam has an impressive frame to build upon but is already a Division I size player at 6-4 265 pounds. Shahin's rugged build and natural strength make him a "high upside" recruit for the Rice Interior Defensive Line.
Taylor McHargue - though Rice is the third school McHargue has committed to, Rice has apparently always been his favorite. He just had to wait on an opportunity to join the Owls.
When Quarterback Nick Fanuzzi transferred from Alabama early in August the Owls basically considered him their QB for this class and shut down QB recruiting - so the athletic McHargue took an offer from Iowa State who unlike other schools at the time recruited Taylor as a QB. But in December, then Iowa State Head Coach Gene Chizik bolted for a chance to return to Auburn where he had been Defensive Coordinator prior to stops at UT and Iowa State. Obviously McHargue didn't feel comfortable with the situation in Ames and decided to re-open his recruitment.
The University of Houston offered, and Taylor grabbed a spot with the Cougars thinking if he did not he would perhaps be left without a scholarship with so many good Quarterbacks in the state this year.
Then the chance he had truly wanted from the beginning became a reality. Rice had not intended to recruit any more Quarterbacks for 2009 after Fanuzzi transferred and Arlington Lamar QB Michael Poynter announced he would walk on at Rice, but James Casey's departure for the NFL left the Owls short at the position. The Owls talked to McHargue and he decided to visit this past weekend.
Still the choice was not an easy one for McHargue.
"I didn't want to be a guy who decommitted again(from UH) but Rice is the place I really wanted to go to from the start. My parents work with Rice graduates and I've heard nothing but good things about the school for years. I wanted to be challenged both on the field and in the classroom. Of course Nic (Hammett) has done a great job of recruiting me too", Taylor laughed.
His weekend trip sealed the deal for him.
"I really liked the players at Rice and the chemistry Coach Bailiff has developed on the team. Coming to school here is a dream come true."
McHargue is a Dual-Threat QB, in the same mold as record setting Owl QB Chase Clement. McHargue is about 6-2 200 pounds and runs the 40 in the mid 4.5 range. He's a very good athlete who has posted 4.16 seconds in the pro-shuttle drill, along with a 36" vertical leap.
And he is very familiar with the Rice Offense.
"We ran basically the same Offense that Rice runs at my high school (Vista Ridge). I like the Offense a whole lot because it allows me to run if I need to."
The current 2009 Rice Recruiting Class sits at 22. The Owls could add one more commit - possibly a Wide Receiver - but are otherwise likely finished with what will be the best Rice Owl Recruiting Class in the modern history of the program...
Welcome to Rice Tolu, Chris, Keven, Hosam, and Taylor!