The 2013 Conference USA Champion Rice Owls stayed true to their roots when compiling their 2014 recruiting class, adding 18 recruits from the state of Texas and a 19th, Lance Wright, who is a native Texan but will become the Owls' first recruit from Alaska.
During his seven seasons at Rice, Bailiff has made recruiting Texas products a priority and the results of those efforts have combined to earn three bowl bids and win the school's first outright conference championship since 1957.
"Signing Day is always exciting because of the amount of work every member of our staff has put into reaching this day," Bailiff said. "These young men made a decision to become Rice Owls for all the right reasons. They know they are going to receive the finest education available while accepting the responsibility to continue the momentum our departing seniors created during their careers. Many of these recruits made a commitment to Rice early in the recruiting process and they never waivered from their decision. You can hear it in their voice and see it in their eyes, they want to be Rice Owls," Bailiff added.
High school honors: All-Centex selection as a senior at Austin Westlake for coach Darren Allman after earning All-District 17-4A as a junior at Georgetown for coach Jason Dean as the Eagles reached the finals of the 4A D1 state title game against Denton Guyer... Area qualifier in the discus as a junior and finished fourth... Father (DeVry) played football at Army... Member of National Society of High School Scholars and the National Honor Society... Boys State delegate. Bailiff on Anderson: "Calvin has great length and reach with a lot of growth potential. He is a very athletic offensive tackle that also played defense in high school."
SAF | 6-2 | 175 | Bryan, TX (Bryan)
High school honors: First team All-District 14-5A as a senior for coach Ross Rogers and also named district return specialist MVP... Also named second-team All Brazos Valley... Finished senior year with 50 tackles (two for loss) broke up six passes and intercepted another... Finished his career with five interceptions on defense while catching 45 passes for 731 yards and five TDs on offense... All-district selection in basketball as well as a regional qualifier in the high jump... Academic All-State in basketball as a freshman and in football as a senior... Father (Vernon) is the head strength coach for the Texas A&M men's basketball team as well as the Aggies' men's and women's track programs. Bailiff on Banks: "V.J. is a guy with tremendous athleticism and versatility. He played wide receiver and defensive back as well as being an exceptional kick and punt returner."
CB | 5-9 | 190 | Mesquite, TX (Horn)
High school honors: First team All-District 12-5A as a junior as a safety, but missed multiple games as a senior for coach Mike Overton and the Bi-District champs as a corner... One of two Jaguars to sign with the Owls (Destri White)... Ranked by Dave Campbell's Texas Football as the #10 corner in its postseason edition...Member of Dave Campbell's Texas Football's Texas Top 300 and listed as one of the top 25 defensive backs...Three-year letterman for the Jaguars.... Finished his career with 85 tackles, eight pass breakups and two interceptions... Also runs track and played soccer... Has a 4.0 GPA... First team Academic All State... A member of the National Honor Society and the Horn Student Council. Bailiff on Clark: "Jorian is a strong cover corner that plays with great energy and awareness. He is a very physical tackler and plays the ball in the air well. He was the first commit in class of 2014."
LB | 6-0 | 224 | Houston, TX (Strake Jesuit)
High school honors: Second team All-District 19-5A as a junior and senior for coach James Clancy, finishing his career with 236 tackles (164 solos), five sacks, 10 hurries, four forced fumbles, three recoveries, five pass breakups while also blocking a pair of field goal attempts... Team MVP as a senior ... Member of Dave Campbell's Texas Football's Texas Top 300 and the Houston Chronicle's Houston Top 100... Honorable Mention Academic All State... Served on the Student Council as a senior and a member of the Black Student Union all four years at Strake. Bailiff on Ellerbee: "Emmanuel is a very instinctual linebacker that plays with great technique. He makes plays side line to side line and is a physical tackler."
DL | 6-0 | 277 | McKinney, TX (Frisco Heritage)
High school honors: First team All-District 9-4A as a senior and a second team selection as a junior for coach Che Hendrix... Finished his career with 209 tackles, including 17 sacks, 24 total tackles for loss and four forced fumbles while also rushing for two touchdowns... Also lettered one year in basketball... Participates in the Boys 2 Men Leadership Program and also works as a youth volunteer at his church. Bailiff on Gordon: "Preston is extremely quick and explosive off the ball and uses his hands very well. He has great feet and athleticism. He even played a little running back in high school."
SAF | 6-0 | 195 | Mansfield, TX (Mansfield)
High school honors: First team All-District 7-5A as a senior, second team selection as a junior and co-district defensive sophomore of the year in 2011 for coach Jeff Hulme... One of two Tigers to sign with the Owls, joining offensive lineman Hunter Ponder... Ended his career with eight career interceptions including one he returned for a touchdown... Forced four fumbles and recovered three others and returned one for a score... Standout triple jumper as well... Academic All-District. Bailiff on Ibe: "J.T. is a very intelligent, high character player who has shown the ability to make big plays against the run and the pass."
QB | 6-5 | 202 | San Antonio, TX (East Central)
High school honors: Second team All-District 28-5A selection as a senior for coach Clint Hartman for the Hornets... Threw for 1,264 yards and 10 touchdowns despite missing four games because of an injury... Threw for 1,951 yards and 20 TDs in his career while rushing for 730 yards and nine scores in his career... Offensive MVP of team... Ranked by Dave Campbell's Texas Football as the #10 quarterback in its postseason edition... Member of Dave Campbell's Texas Football's Texas Top 300... Four-year letterman in basketball and earned all-district honors as a junior... National Honor Society member. Bailiff on Jones: "Jeremy is a tall, athletic quarterback that is very intelligent and a student of the game. He can really throw the football and can make plays when things break down. His best years as a QB are ahead of him."
OL | 6-4 | 298 | Alvin, TX (New Caney)
High school honors: First team All-District 19-4A as a senior at New Caney for coach Brady Pennington after earning second team All-District 22-5A accolades as a junior at Manvel... Member of Dave Campbell's Texas Football's Texas Top 300 and listed as one of the top 25 offensive linemen and a preseason All-State selection... A member of the Houston Chronicle's Houston Top 100... Finalist for the Houston Touchdown Club preseason Player of the Year award... All Greater Houston... Father, Jimmy, is the Offensive Coordinator at Blinn JC and played quarterback at Houston as did his older brother David. Bailiff on Klingler: "Cory is a very powerful kid that plays with a low center of gravity. He played defensive tackle as well as offensive line in high school and will be a great center/guard combo player. He is also a very good deep snapper."
WR | 6-5 | 219 | East Bernard, TX (East Bernard)
High school honors: Multi-talented performer for his father, Jerry Long, at East Bernard who missed his senior year because of an injury... A member of Dave Campbell's Texas Football's Texas Top 300 as an athlete... Second team All-State as a linebacker as a junior while also catching 19 passes for 380 yards and five touchdowns for the 2A Division I State Champions... Also a standout in track, running on the Brahmas' state champion 4x400 relay as a sophomore and junior and finishing third in the 300 meter hurdles as a sophomore... Earned all-district honors in basketball as a junior... A member of the National Honor Society and an Academic All-State selection as a senior. Bailiff on Long: "Trevor is a big athlete that can really run. He has great ball skills and plays very physical. He really attacks the football when catching it and makes big plays after the catch."
WR | 6-2 | 186 | Rowlett, TX (Sachse)
High school honors: All-District 11-5A pick as an athlete as a senior for coach Mark "Red" Behrens... Caught 23 passes for 341 yards and a pair of touchdowns and returned an interception for a third score as a senior... Finished his career with 67 catches for 938 yards, rushed for 1,134 yards, returned five kicks for touchdowns on offense and had 71 tackles and seven interceptions on defense... Father, James, played basketball at Oklahoma for two years and an uncle, Tyrone Washington, was drafted by the Houston Rockets and played professionally overseas for a number of years... Member of the Spanish Honor Society and the 3rd Coast Academic Team. Bailiff on Mayden: "James is a tremendous athlete with a huge upside. He is a very explosive runner and has a big frame. Catches the ball well and adjusts to the deep ball very well. He played both wide receiver and safety."
LB | 6-0 | 200 | Leander, TX (Leander)
High school honors: Three time All-District 25-4A pick at linebacker for coach Lee Bridges... Finished his career with 241 tackles, four sacks and three interceptions, including 108 stops as a senior... A member of Dave Campbell's Texas Football's Texas Top 300 and in the Top 25 Linebackers... Qualified for state as a member of Leander's 4x200 relay... Three-time Academic All-District pick... Brother (Mark) plays basketball at Harford. Bailiff on Nwakamma: "Martin is a very explosive playmaker on the defensive side of the ball. He plays great in space and is very good blitzing off the edge. He can disrupt an offense a lot of different ways."
OL | 6-5 | 295 | Cypress, TX (St. Pius X)
High school honors: TAPPS All-State selection as a senior for coach Blake Ware at St. Pius X and a member of the Houston Chronicle's Houston Top 100... Finalist for the Houston Touchdown Club Lineman of the Year... Moved to the offensive line as a senior and recorded 75 pancakes.... Played on the defensive side of the ball in his first three years and recorded over 100 tackles... Four-time member of the Dean's List at St. Pius X. Bailiff on Pierce: "Sam has a rare combination of height and burly mass with great athleticism that lends itself to being a very athletic anchor tackle. He is another lineman that excelled on the defensive side of the ball in high school."
OL | 6-5 | 265 | Mansfield, TX (Mansfield)
High school honors: Two time All-District 7-5A pick for coach Jeff Hulme... One of two Tigers to sign with the Owls, joining defensive back J.T. Ibe... Three-year letterman and two-year starter... Also lettered in track and powerlifting... Two-time academic all-district selection. Bailiff on Ponder: "Hunter is a tall and thick bodied kid that has great feet. These attributes will allow him to be a versatile guard/tackle combination player."
RB | 5-9 | 195 | Cypress, TX (Cy Woods)
High school honors: Second team All-District 17-5A pick for coach Trenton Faith who ran for 1,780 yards and 23 touchdowns and caught 52 passes for 947 yards and 12 scores in his career... Also returned one punt for a score and threw a pair of touchdowns... Member of Dave Campbell's Texas Football's Texas Top 300 and listed as one of the top 25 running backs... A member of the Houston Chronicle's Top 100... Academic All- District and Honorable mention Academic All-State. Bailiff on Stewart: "Samuel is a dynamic athlete that can do it all out of the backfield. He is a very patient runner and excellent pass catcher out of the backfield or in the slot. He is also a great kick/punt returner."
ATH | 5-8 | 191 | Crosby, TX (Crosby)
High school honors: Joins his twin brother Austin at Rice after dominating District 19-4A over the last three years... District 19-4A MVP while playing quarterback at Crosby for coach Jeff Riordan... Ranked by Dave Campbell's Texas Football as the #4 athlete in its postseason edition... Threw for 2,301 yards and 31 touchdowns and ran for 1,996 and 10 more scores.... Finished his career with 6,100 yards passing and 62 touchdowns and ran for 2,778 and 26 more... A member of Dave Campbell's Texas Football's Texas Top 300 and the Houston Chronicle Top 100 as an athlete. Bailiff on Aston Walter: "Aston is a tremendous athlete with great versatility. He can do a lot of different things and is a guy that has the ability to go the distance every time he touches the ball. He excelled as a QB in high school and will be a threat all over the field."
ATH | 5-7 | 180 | Crosby, TX (Crosby)
High school honors: Joins his twin brother Aston at Rice after dominating District 19-4A over the last three years... District 19-4A Player of the Year and a member of Dave Campbell's Texas Football's All Texas High School Team.... Two-time, All-State selection... Ran for 2,704 yards on just 201 carries and scored 34 touchdowns as a senior and completed his career with 6,062 yards rushing (on 613 carries) and 71 touchdowns in addition to catching 66 passes for 860 yards and seven scores...
... A member of Dave Campbell's Texas Football's Texas Top 300 and on the Houston Chronicle Top 100 as a running back.
Bailiff on Austin Walter: "Austin is lightning in a bottle. He has great feet and vision and an incredible burst. He is a very natural runner and makes people miss in space without breaking stride. He catches the ball well and is a playmaker as a kick returner as well."
ATH | 6-0 | 200 | Mesquite, TX (Horn)
High school honors: Two time All-District 12-5A selection at Mesquite Horn for coach Mike Overton... District MVP as a junior... One of two Jaguars to sign with the Owls (Jorian Clark)...Ranked by Dave Campbell's Texas Football as the #8 athlete in its postseason edition... Completed 160 of 280 passes as a senior for 2,479 yards and 28 touchdowns and threw for 6,644 yards and 72 touchdowns in his career... Four-year letterman... A member of Dave Campbell's Texas Football's Texas Top 300 as a quarterback... Father (Donald) played football at North Texas... Academic All-State selection. Bailiff on White: "Destri is a versatile athlete that is a physical runner and a natural playmaker. He has shown the ability to do a multitude of things all over the football field. He excelled as a QB in high school."
DE | 6-3 | 231 | Cypress, TX (Cy-Fair)
High school honors: All-District 17-5A selection at Cy-Fair for coach Ed Pustejovsky while leading the Bobcats to the 5A Division 1 quarterfinals... ... A member of the Houston Chronicle's Top 100 and VYPE Magazine's Top 100... Finished his senior year with 85 tackles, 24 tackles for loss (nine sacks) and had an interception and blocked field goal... Also lettered in track for two years... Two-time, Academic All-District selection... Father (Len) was a two-year starter and an All-SWC selection at Texas Tech. Bailiff on Brady Wright: "Brady is a big framed kid with long arms and he is only going to get bigger. He has a tremendous motor and plays with relentless pursuit of the football."
WR | 6-3 | 185 | Fairbanks, AK (North Pole)
High school honors: Rice's only signee from outside of Texas and the school's first football recruit from Alaska, Wright was actually born in Texas (Irving)... Named Mr. Football in Alaska as a senior, catching 29 passes for 605 yards and nine touchdowns... Completed his career with 90 receptions for 1873 yards and 26 touchdowns... 4A All-State selection as a senior after earning similar 3A honors as a junior... Finished third at the state track meet in the 400 meters as a sophomore and fourth in the 200 meters... A member of the National Honor Society and received the Presidential Excellence Award. Bailiff on Lance Wright: "Lance is a big athletic wide receiver that can stretch the field vertically. He has excellent ball skills and is very good running with the ball after the catch. He has a very bright future as a wide receiver."