When Rockdale Linebacker Nic Hammett sends in his Letter-of-Intent tomorrow to Rice University, not only will the Owls be getting a hell of a football player; they'll be getting a natural born leader as well.
His performance on, and off the field since giving his pledge to the Owls last summer already has the Central Texas star ear-marked as a team leader when he arrives at Rice.
First, on the field.
The 6-4 230 pound Hammett compiled over 150 tackles en route to being named District 24-3A Defensive MVP. He was also named 1st Team All-District at Tight End.
His stellar play was also recognized by the media around Texas. He was named HM All-State by the Associated Press; then recently received 1st Team 3A All-State honors from the Texas Sports Writers Association. Nic was also All-State last spring as a Catcher on the Rockdale baseball team.
He will play both sports at Rice. But the leadership he brings to South Main may have an even bigger impact than the tackles he will make, or runners he may throw out. A leader is someone that others look to for direction. Hammett seems to have that quality.
Off the field Hammett has been an unofficial recruiter for the Class of 2009. When fellow recruits like Josh Skinner had the Big 12 knocking on his door, Nic was there to assure him that Rice was the right place. When Cade Shaw was contemplating a commit to Rice, Nic was there again to say they could build something special together as Owls. And when long time friend Taylor McHargue had an opportunity to become an Owl, again Nic was the one saying all the right things.
So, to no surprise, when I called Nic last night to check on his Signing Day agenda he was at work making sure the class that he took an active role in helping build would remain together. He called every one of his future 2009 classmates to make sure there were no doubts about Wednesday.
Hammett took ownership in his future immediately when he committed; and as the 2009 class grew he encouraged the rest to do the same. Nic told me that "the class had all become friends". Someone had to be the catalyst for that. Nic was the guy.
Its always tough to lose senior leaders from a football program. Chase, JD, James Casey, and Brian Raines will be missed.
But take heart Owls, a new generation of leaders is on the way - Nic Hammett will be leading the pack...