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Training Camp '16 Daily Report August 11

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Practice #7

Full pads

7:30-9:35 a.m.  Grass Practice Field

Days to Kickoff: 20

Current Owls Birthdays: 

Former Owls Birthdays:  Three-year letterman and grandfather of current Owl Jackson Tyner, Tom Tyner (1965-67) and defensive end Greg Cannady (1976)

Special Guests: Campers from Primrose School of West Cinco Ranch. Also a shout out to KPRC-TV and KTRK-TV who send out crews to the afternoon practice on Wednesday.  

 In Brief:  Busy morning at Rice Stadium as in addition to the seventh practice of training camp in football, the R Room hosted a press conference to officially announce the trip to Cuba by the Rice baseball team in November.

 Stat of the Day:  The Morning Stretch, America's most popular live coverage of college football pre-practice stretching shattered its previous record with 412 live viewers this morning.    

 Quote of the Day:

Wide Receiver Darrion Pollard: "Because of the various injuries I've had, this is actually one of the first times I've been able to come out and participate with my teammates in a Fall Camp.  There is no better feeling than to be able to be out here and compete with these guys. The adrenaline is always pumping, especially being a senior. It's a great opportunity. There are a few guys who like to say things like 'it's about time you actually got back on the field' but it's all love out here.  It's all friendly and I love it. The biggest thing I see this year is the team camaraderie. I don't think I've seen this kind of chemistry since I have been at Rice. Not just between position groups, but between the entire team. Everyone is just brothers out here. We're all out here playing the same game and we are doing it together.  The energy level is always high, there is just nothing better. (Someone watching practice) might hear a lot of talking back and forth, but we know what buttons to push and which ones not to push. At the end of practice, we're shaking hands. Whatever goes on between the lines, we come of the field together, because that's what brothers do."

 Up Next:  Karaoke Week moves into its fourth night while the team preps for a final morning practice on Friday before the first scrimmage of camp on Saturday.  The scrimmage kicks off a flurry of weekend activity which includes the second annual Fan Fest at Rice Stadium on Saturday and then the arrival of the incoming freshman class of students on Sunday when the team will assist with the newcomers move-in.    

Training Camp '16 Daily Report August 10

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Practice #6

Full pads

7:30-9:35 a.m.  Grass Practice Field

Days to Kickoff 22

Former Owls Birthdays:  Two-year letterman Gary Poage (1960-61), who led the Owls in catches in 1961.

Special Guests:  Former Owl and current Houston Texans defensive tackle Christian Covington

 In Brief:  The Owls hit the field this morning for the first of two practices today. Coach Bailiff continues to be impressed with the team's work ethic and play on the field.

 Quote of the Day:

Defensive Tackle Preston Gordon: "I feel real comfortable. I also feel like I'm in a position where I can help those who are in my position (last year), where they may be a little uncomfortable. I think I have a responsibility to help guys like Myles (Adams) and Will (Phillips). I can help them understand that the game is not too fast, too get on board and that they can play. (Last year) I grew more comfortable with the team. They integrated me in. The game was kind of fast when I started. As the season went on, I got more comfortable. I try to get as many guys as I can and I feed off of other guy's energy."

 Quote of the Day II:

Head Coach David Bailiff: "I have really liked (the player's) worth ethic and the way they've come out here. They've come out here with a great mental attitude. They're crisp. They're sharp. They're focused. What I really like is how our seniors are encouraging the young guys. You see them coaching the guys, trying to accelerate they're learning out here. I'm pleased with the ball security. I'm pleased with how hard the defense is chasing the football. This is our first day of two-a-days so we took a little bit off of them, knowing that they have to come back and have another go at this."

 Shameless Plug:  Tune in each morning of training camp to the "Morning Stretch" with the Rice Owls on Periscope.   The audience keeps growing and we do take requests if you have a favorite player you want to see in action.

 Up Next:  The Owls conclude their first day of two-a-days with a walk-through tonight at 5 p.m.


Training Camp '16 Daily Report August 9

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Practice #5

Full pads

7:30-9:35 a.m.  Grass Practice Field

Days to Kickoff 23

Current Owls Birthdays: Cornerback Lawrence Cimmino (21) and kicker Kevin Tracy (21)

Former Owls Birthdays:  Two former Owls cornerbacks: Two-year letterman (81-82) Antoine Arbuckle and four-year letterman (1988-91) and 1988 Lipscomb Award winner Terry Thornton.

Special Guests:  Former running back/H-back Jeremy Eddington and former Texans first round selection Travis Johnson.

Notable:  The branding marks outside the Patterson Center are now in place and late this afternoon, the new Daktronics video board flashed to life for the first time.

 In Brief:  The deadest of calms hung over the practice field as the Owls emerged from the Patterson Center for their first day in full pads. But despite the intense level of mugginess in the still air, head coach David Bailiff praised the team at the end of the workout for their sustained effort through all 19 periods.    

 Quote of the Day:

Tight End Robby Wells III: "It (adding 30 pounds to his frame during a redshirt year) has given me a lot more confidence about my physical abilities especially when it comes to blocking or coming inside the trenches and taking on a linebacker. I have more strength to rely on and my technique has gotten better. I have this opportunity now and I want to help the team any way I can. I need to take advantage of this opportunity. At the end of the day, I felt a lot more confident coming into camp and I think it's been going well so far. I'm excited for this season and how far this team can go. It's definitely a lot easier to move some of those bigger bodies around. Blaine Padgett is a huge guy and last year it was a struggle for me to block him. This year it's a lot more doable. I've noticed it's a lot easier to block my guys now. It's taken some getting used to when it comes to the tempo of the offense and running the routes, but overall it feels great and I'm glad I was able to get to the weight the coaches wanted. It's made me a much better player. Two years ago, I could tell people I used to play quarterback and they would say they could see that. But now people would say 'no way!' I love the tight end position and Coach Sloan is so awesome to learn from. I owe it to the coaches who put the faith in me that I could have made this switch. I'm definitely glad I did."

 Shameless Plug:  With 175 live viewers and nearly as many replays as of this posting, the "Morning Stretch" continues to be a popular way to start the morning with the Owls on Periscope.  Ours is not to explain or evaluate, just to take our spot on the field each morning and respond to requests from family and friends to seek out their favorites for an up close glimpse.   

 Up Next:  Night Two of Karaoke will have a tough standard to match as freshman Myles Adams set the bar high on the opening night. No matter the level of entertainment provided, A good night's sleep will be the goal with a pair of practices set for Wednesday.   

Training Camp '16 Daily Report August 8

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Practice #4

Shorts, shoulder pads and helmets

7:30-9:45 a.m.  Grass Practice Field

Days to Kickoff 24

Current Owls Birthdays: 0

Former Owls Birthdays:  0

References to Michael Phelps epic turn in the 400 meter relay on Sunday:  multiple

Volunteers to race Katie Ledecky:  0

Special Guests:  Nico Carlson, a starter at guard on the 2013 C-USA Champions.

 In Brief:  Rice returned to the practice field on Monday after a day of meetings on Sunday. After practice, the freshmen joined with the freshmen from the soccer team for the annual Newcomers Luncheon with members of the Rice University staff at Martel Commons.   

 Quote of the Day:

Strong Safety Tabari McGaskey: "In the spring there was a lot more frustration because I wanted the transition (from linebacker to strong safety) to happen a little faster than it was taking. Footwork was never something I worked on in the past, but I spent a lot of time working on footwork this summer and the transition has been a lot smoother. I'm having a lot more fun out here now than in the spring. I'm not feeling awkward now. It's been a good transition and I'm looking to see how far I can go at strong safety. Coming from the defensive line in high school, I never trusted my athleticism, but it's what allowed me to first switch to linebacker. I like the chance to make plays on deep balls, but as a defensive lineman or linebacker it was always easy to ask why the DB's aren't breaking up those passes. But now I know it's a lot harder and a real challenge, but when you get an interception, it's pretty exciting. I don't want to be that guy who drops an interception, so I am putting in a lot more practice with the JUGS machine and things like that."

 Shameless Plug:  Tune in each morning of training camp to the "Morning Stretch" with the Rice Owls on Periscope.   The audience keeps growing and we do take requests if you have a favorite player you want to see in action.

 Up Next:  Dinner on Monday night will take on a familiar off key tone with the return of the Karaoke machine, which has provided some memorable performances over years.   The level of football steps up on Tuesday morning when the Owls pull on the full set of pads for the first time.  

Training Camp '16 Daily Report August 6

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Practice #3

Shorts, shoulder pads and helmets

7:30-9:45 a.m.  Grass Practice Field

Days to Kickoff 25

Current Owls Birthdays: 0

Former Owls Birthdays:  Four-year letterman Bryan Phillips (1977-80)

 In Brief:  After hearing from NASA Astronaut Clayton Anderson during a post-dinner presentation on Friday night, the first sounds of contact came to camp as the Owls donned their shoulder pads for the first time during a two-plus hour workout on the grass practice field.  

 Quotes of the Day:

Head Coach David Bailiff: "His (Clayton Anderson) story is absolutely amazing. It's one of goal-setting.  It's one of perseverance. He applied to be an astronaut 15 years in a row and was denied. But instead of giving up, he kept building up his resume until NASA had to say "yes".  I think he just outlasted them. To have a man talk to the team who has done three space walks and who has lived in the space station for 152 days. That takes a mental toughness and a grit. His message is inspiring.

Offensive Lineman Connor Patterson: "This is the fifth camp for Brandon Dawkins and myself and we're the guys who need to step up and be leaders.  Trey and Peter and Calvin have all played a significant amount of time and Sam as well, but we are the ones who need to step up and lead the way. It's exciting to be that guy.  Andrew Reue was in front of me the last couple of years and he taught me a lot about leadership. I hope I can step up and be like Andrew and lead these guys. When we came in, we had guys like Luke Willson, Taylor McHargue, Phillip Gaines  all the guys who had come in when there was nothing going on and brought Rice Football to a place where we were winning bowl games. I was there for the first bowl game. After three bowl games, I honestly think we got complacent. We thought it was just going to be given to us because we were the new version of Rice Football. Last year we kind of fell off. So now understand that we've had those highs and we've had the lows. Going into the year the goal is to focus on the highs and eliminate the lows."

 Shameless Plug:  Tune in each morning of training camp to the "Morning Stretch" with the Rice Owls on Periscope.   The audience keeps growing and we do take requests if you have a favorite player you want to see in action.

 Up Next:  Meetings, weights and walk-throughs are the order of the day for the rest of Saturday and Sunday as the Owls will take a day off from the heat and humidity.  They will be back on the field first thing Monday morning for the first practice in full pads. 

Training Camp '16 Daily Report August 5

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Practice #2

Shorts and helmets

7:30-9:30 a.m.  Grass Practice Field

Days to Kickoff 26

Current Owls Birthdays: 0

Former Owls Birthdays:  QB and team captain Robby Shelton (1966-68) and offensive lineman Mike Applebaum (1989-92).

 In Brief:  A quick turnaround after an evening practice on Thursday saw the special teamers back on the practice field on Friday as the sun was just rising over campus. A few issues with players cramping, but no major issues.  Team continues to break in the new Patterson Center and Friday afternoon will be their first time to hold lifting sessions in the new weight room.

 Quotes of the Day:

Defensive Lineman Zach Abercrumbia: "Last year, I was a little naive to how much conditioning you need to play at this level and to play well. Now I know what to expect, how the days are going to go. I now know how long the days can be and that you have to tough it out. The little things really matter, things I took for granted in high school. Things like being sure to jump in the ice tub after practice, which is something I didn't do that much last year. I learned that it definitely helps the recovery process. That's a big thing I learned. You can't go 100% every day without helping your body recover. I have told the new freshmen that things are not going to go the way you think they will. You will have things that might not seem important, but everything we do out here is for a reason, whether its stretching, the extra work, the walk-throughs. I say walk-throughs, but they are extremely hard mental reps. You have to stay focused to be in the right place at the right time. When you get to this level, talent is everywhere.  It's he guys who have technique and who give the extra effort are the ones who will separate themselves from the rest."

 Up Next:  The team moves into a consistent schedule for the next week, with workouts at 7:30 through next Friday, but the intensity ramps up a level on Saturday morning as the Owls will pull on the shoulder pads for the first time this camp. 

 

Training Camp '16 Daily Report

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Practice #1

Shorts and helmets

5:00-7:00  Grass Practice Field

Days to Kickoff 27

Current Owls Birthdays: 0

Former Owls Birthdays: 0
Special Guest: Former Owl and recent "America Ninja Warrior" contestant Gabe Baker stopped in for the end of practice to get a glimpse of the new setup.

 In Brief:  On a day that began with breakfast at 6, followed by team and individual photos inside Rice Stadium and then the annual media day, the Owls put their new Brian Patterson Performance Center home through its first practice routine paces as the Owls stepped out the back door of their locker room and on to the grass practice field for a two-hour workout.

 Quotes of the Day:

Head Coach David Bailiff:  "We didn't come out here and just survive it, we came out and got better in the heat.   You saw some of the younger players a little over-excited.  We have to calm their enthusiasm since we are not in pads, but you'd rather calm them down than have to jazz them up."

 

Quarterback Tyler Stehling: "I definitely prepared a little bit harder (this offseason) for this for four years since I've been here. I watched a lot of film, just staying in the playbook, just getting the ins and outs of this offense. That's probably the biggest preparation I did."

 Up Next:  A short turnaround with Practice #2 set for 7:30 in the morning as the teams slips into their normal routine for the next week. 

Max Guercy's Chinese Expedition

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After traveling throughout China and getting to play against the Chinese National Team, I've had a chance to look back on my trip. Overall, it was a great experience. It was truly a blessing, from the amazing fans, to meeting new professionals of this game. Max Guercy.JPG

 

One of the teammates that I became close with was Joy Williamson, who played at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and was my roommate during the entire tour. We became great friends and made a long lasting friendship. 

 

Playing with and against professionals has definitely helped me prepare for what I need to work on before playing at the pro level. I learned a lot about my game, including changing speeds and playing with different paces at the pro level. You have to know when and where to change speeds. I also became used to the pro lines. The three-point line is further out than in college and the paint is bigger, which makes a big difference. I need to continue to work on getting used to the professional three-point line as well as using my speed to my advantage. 

 

China definitely has a different lifestyle and playing basketball was the best part of the trip. If I could travel there again in the next couple of years I would because of the amazing fans that each city had. The culture is much different than in the United States but it was great. Even though it was tough to communicate at times, the people were very friendly and they always wanted to take photos whenever possible.

 

I would love to go to Europe to begin my professional career. I've heard nothing but great things about it from my teammates that I was on tour with and I want to experience the European culture. 

 

This has been an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life. Thanks for following me on my trip and Go Owls! 

 

Celebrating the Unexpected

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jamie wimbledon marcus willis 2.jpg

As with any one of the Grand Slam events in tennis, The Championships, Wimbledon traditionally opens at a leisurely pace as top seeds easily dispatch of opponents and most of the drama is centered on if the weather will impact the heavy slate of matches.

 But every so often, there is a moment that runs counter to the trend, a Walter Mitty-esque effort by a player whose name does easily flow from the announcer's booth to breathe life into the process.  Sports thankfully graces us with just enough of these moments to remind us to never let go of the chance to see something unique.

 Thus it came to pass that Rice junior tennis player Jamie Malik and some of his friends found themselves becoming part the story as one of their own, Marcus Willis, would upset one highly ranked player and then step on to Centre Court to face the legendary Roger Federer.

 Willis was ranked 772nd in the world and fought his way into the bracket by winning a series of qualifying matches.  He faced off against Ričardas Berankis , who was ranked just outside the top 50,  on Court 12  at Wimbledon. Malik was part of a group who were there to support him no matter the slight chance of success, showing up well in advance of the match to stake on a section of seats along the baseline.

"My brother (Jathan, who plays at Michigan) has played Marcus a few times and beaten him once. I've played him in doubles when playing for my club. We also play for the same county in England which is Berkshire," Malik explained. "It wasn't too hard to get the seats we all saved them before Marcus came out and made sure we had a good group of people together to support him."

 Willis' support group roared with every point and their man delivered many chances to cheer, racing to a straight set win over Berankis. Afterward, Willis made a beeline for his fan club in the corner of the stands.

Postmatch Celebration

 Photos of the celebration filled social media and one now serves as the header photo on Willis' twitter page.  

Willis Twitter page.png

 The next day, Willis' and his merry band found themselves at the epicenter of the tennis world, Centre Court.  The combination of the fairy tale story, the most famous player in the world as the opposition and the fact that it was the only match in action thanks to the retractable roof which kept out the rain threw even more light on the moment.

 While Federer won in three sets, Willis thrilled the crowd with a competitive second and third sets, earning an approving hug and post-match commentary from the seven-time champion.

 While they were not seated together, Malik and company were there to cheer every point and savor every moment.

 It was great to see Marcus play against Federer on Centre Court," Malik said. "It was inspirational seeing Marcus play out there, we've all dreamed of it."

Max Guercy's Chinese Expedition

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The last two weeks in China have seen us doing a lot of traveling. WeMax.JPG have been going to different cities in the last couple of days. We have been touring and meeting the fans at multiple meet and greets and getting to tour the city also. Throughout this experience, it has definitely been a wonderful place to see the different type of arts China has to offer. Also, in every city there are new fans who greet us as if we were American superstars.

We are on tour now with a professional team from Chicago called the Steam. They are from the inner city and came out here to play against us. We are now a joined team to play against the Chinese National team. We have now 14 players on the roster against the Chinese national team

One thing that I've had to get used to is the food. It was definitely unique at first although I didn't try everything. Some foods were very tasty. Rice is a staple for every meal including breakfast so it's definitely something to get used to. 

I've been playing well so far going against pro guys for the first time and learning a lot of things as well. It's a lot different than college. You have to do everything on your own and it's especially harder when you don't know the language. At the pro level, it is a faster paced game with a 24 second shot clock. You have to adjust and make quicker decisions with only 24 seconds instead of the 35 seconds that you get in the college game. I can't wait to compete against the national team in the next few days.

One of the most unusual things to happen is that after my best game I was holding children up to take pictures, but also holding a pregnant women's stomach and taking a picture. It was the first time I've ever done that. Luckily, we have a team translator that helps us out with everything. He helps to take care of food, hotels and if people wanted to talk to us he will translate for us. This is definitely an experience of a lifetime. 

 

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