Former All-Pro tight end David Sloan enters his third season of coaching the Owls tight ends in 2014, continuing to build the brand of the position inside the Rice offensive attack.
In 2013, Sloan had to reload at the position after graduating a pair of NFL draft picks and a third who signed as a free agent in 2012. Redshirt freshman Connor Cella made an immediate impact, catching four passes for 52 yards in the opener at Texas A&M. Meanwhile true freshman Robbie Wells expanded his role during the season and the Owls will bolster their lineup with sophomore Reid Mitchell and redshirt freshman Cole Hunt.
While Sloan was guiding his youthful group through their first year of action, a pair of his first products on South Main enjoyed exciting debuts in the NFL. Rice joined Stanford as the only schools to see a pair of tight ends drafted in the first five rounds of the 2012 NFL draft and one of those selections, Luke Willson became the sixth Owl to win a Super Bowl ring as a starter for the Seattle Seahawks, catching a pair of passes for 17 yards against Denver in Super Bowl XLVIII. Willson met fellow 2012 tight end draftee Vance McDonald in the NFC title game. McDonald was taken in the second round (55th overall) by the 49ers, the highest draft selection for Rice since Bert Emanuel (a former teammate of Sloan's) in 1994.
McDonald finished his career ranked in the Owls top ten in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns and became the first Owl since ND Kalu in 1996 to be invited to play in the Senior Bowl. Willson was a four-year starter who was drafted by the Toronto Argos of the CFL prior to his senior year and was a standout in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.
Sloan is in his fifth season overall at Rice, having come to campus as a graduate assistant and also serving in a quality control position . When Sloan joined the Owls in 2010, he reunited with Rice head coach David Bailiff, who was on the staff at the University of New Mexico in 1993 when Sloan signed with the Lobos out of junior college
A two-time Academic All-Conference selection while playing basketball at Fresno City College from 1990-91, Sloan made the jump to football in the fall of 1992.
He caught the eye of Bailiff after catching 13 passes for 254 yards and 4 touchdowns. He signed with New Mexico and earned All-WAC Honorable Mention as a junior in 1993.
He improved on that effort as a senior, earning first-Team All-WAC honors and was named one of the Lobos' team co-captains after catching 24 receptions for 320 yards and 1 touchdown during his senior campaign. After his senior year, he played in the Blue Gray All-Star Game, Senior Bowl and participated in NFL Scouting combine in Indianapolis.
Sloan was selected in the third round of the 1995 by the Detroit Lions and became a starter midway through his rookie season and the Lions won seven straight to earn a playoff spot. He enjoyed his best season in 1999, when he earned a spot in the Pro Bowl after catching 47 passes for 591 yards and four touchdowns as the Lions again reached the playoffs. Sloan started for the NFC in the 2000 Pro Bowl and was named as an alternate in 2001.
He led the Lions with seven touchdown passes in 2001. He was signed by New Orleans in 2002 and retired after the 2003 season. He finished his NFL career with 199 receptions, for 2251 yards and 17 touchdowns including seven catches for 100 yards and two touchdowns in three playoff games.
He has two daughters: Trinity (10) and Bentley (8).