The Owls feel like in time they will eventually be able to produce a stifling Defensive unit, molded in the same fashion as the stout TCU Horned Frog Defenses that Rice Boss David Bailiff headed up during his days as a Defensive Coordinator in Ft. Worth.
Personally, I have confidence they will reach that goal. In recent classes they've been able to recruit solid Defensive Backs, and perhaps have had even greater success with Defensive Ends. Last month Rice struck paydirt again when they also found solid interior linemen in Alex Lowry and Hosam Shahin, plus Linebackers Trey Briggs and Nic Hammett. Its the consensus of many followers of Owl Football that the Rice Coaching staff, led by Rice Recruiting Coordinator/Defensive Line Coach D.J. Eliot, has done an excellent job of attracting big time talent to the program.
So with that in mind, the unofficial visit to Owl Spring practice of highly regarded Fort Bend Marshall Linebacker Lowell Williams was a welcomed event this week. Williams attended Monday's practice with his father, also "Lowell Williams", and Marshall teammate Darrell Augustine.
Not only were Rice Coaches pleased to see Williams, but he got some good news as practice concluded that made him happy as well. Rice Head Coach David Bailiff personally offered Williams a scholarship to Rice. It was the talented Fort Bend Marshall Linebacker's first official offer.
He had this to say about it afterwards, "I'm really loving the offer. It feels great. I loved watching practice today it's been a great day. The intensity was great and I like the way the coaches here work with the players. They do a lot of teaching and focus on details; but they also let their players enjoy the game. Rice is one of my favorites right now. The coaches told me to take time with my decision because coming to rice is a 40 year decision, not just a 4 year decision."
Seems Lowell's dad came away impressed as well.
"My dad likes Rice because they are recruiting me as much for academics as for football. He was impressed with all the coaches, especially Coach Bailiff and Coach Naivar."
No doubt recruits like Williams are realizing that choosing Rice for its academics doesn't mean "settling" for football anymore. With Chris Del Conte's vision to expand the Athletic Programs, including football which has a new end-zone expansion project in the works; and David Bailiff's emphasis on building a championship caliber football team; a player can now have it all at Rice. And if you are a Greater Houston Area player like Williams is, you can do it right here at home.
While Rice was the first to offer Willams, he will likely have several schools to choose from before making a final decision. He's hearing from Colorado, Colorado State, Oregon State, Texas A&M Minnesota, Stanford, Kansas, Louisville, and Houston. Vanderbilt is also on Williams radar. In fact, he will travel to Nashville this weekend on an unofficial visit.
Lowell isn't sure about when he might make a decision. This summer he plans to attend some combines and also camps at Rice, UH, and Texas A&M. Beyond that he will make a decision when he feels he has all the information he needs to make the right choice.
"My dad and I talked about it the other night when we got home from Rice. He told me the offer from Rice is great but to stay humble, work hard, and keep my faith in God. When I get all the opportunities in front me we will sit down and try to decide on what's best. Rice was the first to offer and I'm loving that."
Williams is currently about 6-1 205 pounds and possesses exceptional quickness - reportedly having run the pro shuttle in a heartbeat quick 3.98 seconds in testing at his school. This could be one of many reasons why so many schools are noticing this outstanding prospect.
Williams told me he might come back to Rice practice tomorrow, but wasn't sure if his father would be able to attend. We'll stay in touch with Lowell as his recruitment continues...