The Owls held their first practice of their 2012 Fall Camp at Rice Stadium on Saturday.
Ronnie Vinklarek enters his sixth season of coaching the Rice offensive line, having joined the Owls' football staff on February 28, 2009.
Vinklarek's front wall has been instrumental in the resurgence of the Owls' running attack that saw Rice pile up its best rushing total since 2004 while senior running back Charles Ross piled up the fourth-best season and second-best career numbers in school history.
After facing a total overhaul of his line heading into 2012, Vinklarek now welcomes an experienced unit into 2014, with three returning starters heading the list and two experience backups stepping into starting roles. Seniors Nico Carlson and junior Caleb Williams are showing up on preseason honor lists joining senior Drew Carroll as returning starters. Junior Andrew Reue will move outside to tackle after sharing starting time with Carroll at guard while former walk-on Matt Simmonette is expected to complete a remarkable recovery from a broken arm last fall to take over for departed All C-USA performer Nate Richards at center.
Vinklarek is no stranger to the Houston area or Conference USA. He coached the linemen at the University of Houston from1988-93 and at SMU from 2004-07. He also coached at the high school level in Houston, coaching the defensive line at Spring Branch High School in 1983-84 and as the offensive coordinator at Conroe High School in 1996.
While at Houston, he mentored the offensive line that protected Andre Ware during his Heisman Trophy winning season (1989) and was selected to coach in the 1990 Blue-Gray Game after helping UH to a 10-1 season. He originally came to Houston as a graduate assistant under former Houston Oilers and Washington Redskins head coach Jack Pardee and was promoted to full-time assistant in 1990.
Vinklarek coached in the NFL for three seasons. He broke into the league in 2000 with the Tennessee Titans as their defensive quality control, linebackers and special teams coach. He moved on to the Buffalo Bills in 2001 and coached their offensive line for two seasons. In 2002 the Bills offensive line paved the way for a 4,359-yard passer in Drew Bledsoe, a 1,439-yard rusher in Travis Henry and two 1,200-yard-plus receivers in Eric Moulds and Peerless Price.
Prior to joining the Owls, he coached the offensive line for the Edmonton Eskimos of the CFL. He broke into the coaching ranks as the seventh and eighth grade coach at Hill Country Middle School after graduating from Southwest Texas in 1981. From 1983 to 1984, was the defensive line coach for Spring Branch High School in Houston before becoming the defensive coordinator at Marble Falls (Texas) High School from 1984-86.
He also served as offensive line coach at Oklahoma State (1998 & 1999), Valdosta State (1997), Middle Tennessee State (2003) as well as with the CFL's Birmingham Barracudas (1995).
A Flatonia, Texas, native, Vinklarek is married to the former Marianne Britz. The couple has two sons, Trevor and Trent.