Feb. 1, 2012
Rice head football coach David Bailiff announced the signing of 23 high school seniors and one junior college transfer to national letters of intent to play football for the Owls.
"This is one of our larger classes since I have been at Rice, and our staff did a tremendous job of identifying a number of areas of need," Bailiff said. "We signed some tremendous athletes and have added speed at a number of crucial positions. It is a class of leaders as well. These are young men who will fit in well at Rice. "
The 2012 class features 21 signees from Texas and one each from Alabama, Georgia and Michigan. While the remainder of the class will enroll in classes later this summer, junior college transfer Nate Richards enrolled in classes in January and will participate in spring drills with the Owls in March.
|Name||Pos.||Ht.||Wt.||Hometown||High Sch. / Junior Co.|
|Andre Anderson||WR||5-11||190||Cedar Hill||(Cedar Hill)|
|J.T. Blasingame||DB||5-9||170||Atlanta, Georgia||(Mays)|
|Derek Brown||WR||6-3||215||Bay City||(Bay City)|
|Justin Carter||SAF||6-0||195||Hoover, Alabama||(Spain Park)|
|Brandon Dawkins||OL||6-6||305||Dallas||(Prestonwood Christian)|
|Darik Dillard||RB||5-11||190||San Antonio||(McArthur)|
|Zach Espinosa||SAF||6-2||210||Cedar Park||(Cedar Park)|
|Garrett Fuhrman||DB||5-9||170||Lansing, Michigan||(Eastern)|
|Brandon Hamilton||RB||5-11||215||Copperas Cove||(Copperas Cove)|
|Nate Richards||C||6-4||305||Keller||(Trinity Valley CC)|
|Spencer Stanley||OL||6-4||260||Ft. Worth||(Trinity Valley)|
|Tyler Stehling||QB||6-6||205||Spring||(Klein Collins)|
Andre Anderson WR 5-11 190 Cedar Hill (Cedar Hill)
Two-time, All-District 5-5A selection at wide receiver for coach Joey McGuire... Opened the season at quarterback to replace current Owl Driphus Jackson, and threw for 514 yards and six scores before moving back to receiver for the second half of the year... Led the Longhorns with 23 catches down the stretch after catching 55 for 588 yards as a junior... Teamed with current Owl Lovett Gibson at receiver as a junior... Set the school record by catching 16 passes in a game... Three -year starter at Cedar Hill as the Horns posted a combined 28-9 record... Competed in both power lifting and track in addition to football... Bailiff on Anderson: "Tremendous athleticism and versatility who played both wide receiver and quarterback and also has the ability to be a strong kick returner."
J.T. Blasingame DB 5-9 170 Atlanta, Georgia (Mays)
Two-time, All-Metro and All-Region 6 AAAA selection for coach Dominic Calloway at Benjamin E. Mays HS... Three-year starter for the Raiders.... Credited with 174 tackles, eight interceptions and 35 pass breakups in his career... Team captain as a senior... Named to the Atlanta Journal Constitution "Georgia's Top 125"... Elected "Mr. Mays" as part of Homecoming as a senior... Play it Smart Student-Athlete of the Month for September, 2011... Runs track and led his 4x100 relay to a 4th place finish at the state championship ... Member of 1500+ SAT Club at Mays... Also active in his community... Helped organize and ship textbooks for children in Africa; distributed items to the homeless at Christmas; donated supplies to after-school programs; volunteered at soup kitchens; conducted arts and crafts activities with the Atlanta Union Mission; and donated and wrapped gifts for children in transitional housing... Bailiff on Blasingame: "A very intelligent, high-character player who has great speed and the ability to cover on the edge, in the slot or play deep safety. What we liked about him from the start was his ability to do so many things."
Derek Brown WR 6-3 215 Bay City (Bay City)
District 23-4A Utility Player of the Year for coach Robert Blackmon at Bay City.... Completed 101 of 197 passes for 1,500 yards and 11 touchdowns, rushed for nearly 700 more and seven TD and caught 12 passes for 302 yards and a pair of scores... Top game as a senior was a 40-37 win over Brazosport when he threw for 364 yards with four scores and scored the game-winner with a one-yard run... Finalist for the Marine Corps Elite Warrior of the Year... Bailiff on Brown: "He is an exciting athlete who played all over the field for Bay City. He played receiver, quarterback, running back, defensive end, linebacker and safety in high school, but we will probably play him at wide receiver. "
Justin Carter SAF 6-0 195 Hoover, Alabama (Spain Park)
Three-year starter for coach Chip Lindsey at Spain Park in suburban Birmingham... All four members of Spain Park's defensive backfield earned FBS scholarships... Led team to playoffs all three seasons... Named the Jaguars Most Valuable Junior and earned All Shelby County honors... All-Academic first team... Senior class president... Member of the Spanish Honor Society... Bailiff on Carter: "Outstanding leader and hitter who was one of four DBs on his team to sign FBS scholarships. A three-year starter and a real leader in a great program. "
Connor Cella TE 6-3 245 Katy (Taylor)
All District 19-5A selection at defensive end for coach Flint Risien at Taylor HS... Also saw action at tight end and was tabbed by Dave Campbell's Texas Football as the 6th best tight end recruit in their 2011 postseason edition... Also plays basketball... Bailiff on Cella: "He is a good athlete who played both defensive end and tight end and impressed us with that athleticism at our camp."
Brandon Dawkins OL 6-6 305 Dallas (Prestonwood Christian)
Second-team TAPPS Division 1 All State selection for coach Chris Cunningham at Prestonwood Christian Academy... Led the Lions to the state semifinals as a senior... Served as team captain for the Blue team in the Tom Hillary DFW Classic in December... Multi-sport athlete at Prestonwood, swimming the 50 meter freestyle for the state champs, playing water polo on the Lions state championship team as well as playing basketball and throwing the shot and discuss in track... Member of the National Honor Society... Participated in Future Problem Solvers... Served as the J&J Teen Liaison to Legislative Session "On The Hill" Summit in Washington, D.C... Served as a clerk for a pair of Dallas County Criminal Court judges... Bailiff on Dawkins: "His combination of the athleticism to play multiple sports with his size gives him the potential to become a very productive offensive tackle."
Cameron Decell K 6-5 205 McKinney (Boyd)
All-District 10 5A selection as a punter and second team as a wide receiver as a junior for coach Don Drake at Boyd HS... Caused touchbacks on 65% of his kickoffs as a senior, with 20 of his 55 kicks going out of the end zone... Averaged 37 yards and a 4.7 second hang time per punt with a long of 72 yards... Won Boyd's Academic Excellence Award for the 2010-11 school year and named King of Athletics in 2010... Bailiff on Decell: "Has a very live leg who was also a great wide receiver in high school. The combination of his height and the spring he has in his leg indicate he's just scratched the surface of his potential."
Darik Dillard RB 5-11 190 San Antonio (McArthur)
Offensive MVP for coach Ben Cook at McArthur HS... Younger brother of former Owls All-America wide receiver Jarett Dillard, currently with the Jacksonville Jaguars... Earned second team All-State honors and first team All-San Antonio honors as a junior and second team All-San Antonio as a senior... Led McArthur to the 5-A DII state quarterfinals as a junior...Rushed for 4,100 yards and added another 900 yards receiving in his career... Plays basketball and led McArthur to the regional finals as a junior... Academic All State as a senior.... Wendy's High School Heisman regional finalist... Ranks third in a class of 557.... Served as treasurer for both the National Honor Society and his senior class... Peer Assistant Leadership Program (PALS)... Tutored English to elementary students and to others through the English Second Language program... First place winner in the Teachers' Choice Night Gallery Art Show... First place in TSA State Architecture competition...Junior Financial Chairman of the National Society of Black Engineers... Bailiff on Dillard "He's a versatile and intelligent player who can help us in a variety of roles."
Zach Espinosa SAF 6-2 210 Cedar Park (Cedar Park)
All-District 25-4A selection at safety as a junior and senior for coach Chris Ross at Cedar Park, while leading the Timberwolves to back-to-back appearances in the state quarterfinals... Credited with 59 tackles, five interceptions, two fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles and broke up 11 passes while earning All-Centex first team honors as a senior... A member of the Hill Country News "Dazzling Dozen"... Ran track and was pair of Cedar Park's 4x100 relay that reached the regional finals... Academic All State... Older brother Dominic is a center at Texas... Bailiff on Espinosa "A big, imposing figure on the field who brings a championship mentality and a hard-hitting attitude to the defense"
Garrett Fuhrman DB 5-9 170 Lansing, Michigan (Eastern)
All-conference and all-area selection for coach Robert McBride at Lansing Eastern HS... Credited with 95 tackles and one interception as a senior... Named to the Lansing State Journal Dream Team... Played golf and ran track... National Honor Society... Junior class president... Ranked in the top 10 in his senior class... Bailiff on Fuhrman "He made a huge impression when he came to our camp last year. We didn't know much about him until that camp, but the more we watched, the more we were convinced we had found a player who fit well into our scheme."
Brandon Hamilton RB 5-11 215 Copperas Cove (Copperas Cove)
All-District 12 5A selection as both a junior and senior for coach Jack Welch at Copperas Cove... Hamilton ran for 1,505 yards, averaged 7.6 per carry and scored 26 touchdowns as a senior to earn a place on the Texas Sportswriters All-State honorable mention list ... Earned honors as a junior fullback and as a running back as a senior ... Bailiff on Hamilton "A powerful and explosive runner who gives us some different options in our offense."
Cody Henessee DT 6-3 255 Denton (Guyer)
All-District 7-5A selection as a senior for coach John Walsh at Denton Guyer HS.... Helped lead his team to the 5 A DII title game as a junior and semifinals as a sophomore... Bailiff on Henessee "Part of a Denton Guyer team that is one of the premiere programs in the state. Has a great ability to change direction and makes plays. He has an incredible motor. He plays fast every play. "
Alex Lyons LB 6-0 220 DeSoto (DeSoto)
All-District 11-5A selection as a senior for coach Claude Mathis at DeSoto HS.... Finished his career with 430 career tackles, 35 TFL, five sacks, 14 pass breakups, nine forced fumbles, five fumbles recovered and three interceptions... Ranked 78th in ESPNU's Texas 150... Third-team preseason Super State selection by Dave Campbell's Texas Football and also a member of their Hot 300... National Honor Society... Spanish National Honor Society... Class officer as a junior... Texas ACT Council Award winner... Bailiff on Lyons "A linebacker with great size, good speed, a physical style and tremendous playmaking that will add a dimension to our linebacking corps."
Tabari McGaskey LB 6-0 210 Dallas (Lincoln)
All-District 12-4A selection as a senior for coach James Agenti at Dallas Lincoln HS... Totaled 83 tackles--including five sacks, forced five fumbles, recovered three fumbles, intercepted one pass and scored a pair of defensive touchdowns as a senior... Academic All State... National Honor Society... Quill and Scroll... Ranked eighth in his graduating class... Bailiff on McGaskey "He has a tremendous upside. Played defensive end and some linebacker and showed a knack for being around the ball. He made a lot of plays in the backfield and created a lot of turnovers. Raw, but has great physical growth potential."
Reid Mitchell TE 6-3 235 Pflugerville (Hendrickson)
All District 16-4A selection as a senior and a three-year starter for coach Chip Killian at Pflugerville Hendrickson HS.... Led team to back-to-back playoff appearances, including a bi-district title as a senior... Tabbed by Dave Campbell's Texas Football as the 7h best tight end recruit in their 2011 postseason edition... Three-time academic all district selection... Academic All State as a senior... National Honor Society... Worked as a teacher's assistant and student aide working with autistic students... Ranked in the top 10% of his graduating class. ... Bailiff on Mitchell "Has great size and growth potential combined with soft hands and could play several positions for us."
Dennis Parks WR 6-3 185 Converse (Judson)
All District 25-5A selection as a junior and senior for coach Jim Rackley in his final season at Converse Judson ... Honorable mention all state.... Totaled 988 all-purpose yards as a senior... Played basketball as well in his first three years at Judson... Academic All State honorable mention ... Bailiff on Parks "He's a player whose length, speed and explosive burst will add a dynamic element to our offense."
Connor Patterson OL 6-4 285 Tomball (Tomball)
All District 13-5A selection for coach Tommy Kaiser at Tomball HS and an honorable mention selection as a junior... Also tabbed as an All Greater Houston honorable mention selection as a senior... Academic All District and honorable mention Academic All State as a senior ... Science Honor Society member... Health Occupation Students of America... Bailiff on Patterson "He is a versatile young offensive lineman who is still raw, but shows great growth potential."
Darrion Pollard ATH 5-9 170 Gilmer (Gilmer)
All-State, All-District 16-3A and the district's offensive MVP for coach Jeff Traylor at Gilmer HS... Set three school records, catching 85 passes for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior... Also returned a pair of punts for scores... Joins his Gilmer QB (Luke Turner) in signing with the Owls ... Earned District Newcomer of the Year honors in track as a junior... National Honor Society... Mentors elementary students... Bailiff on Pollard "A versatile athlete who excelled in football, basketball and track. We really liked his junior film at corner. He played exclusively at receiver and kick returner this year, but we see him as a corner in our scheme."
Nate Richards C 6-4 305 Keller (Trinity Valley CC)
Junior College All America at Trinity Valley Community College who enrolled in January and will participate in spring drills... Originally signed with Central Arkansas after his senior year at Keller HS, but transferred to Trinity Valley after one year... Bailiff on Richards "He's an experienced player who combines strength with a low center of gravity and has the opportunity to come in and make an immediate impact."
Spencer Stanley OL 6-4 260 Ft. Worth (Trinity Valley)
All SPC Division II selection for coach Aaron Mattox at Trinity Valley School, leading the Trojans to a 7-3 in 2011 and an overall mark of 32-11 in his career. Played center and defensive end. Credited with 25 tackles, 2.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries during his senior year... Selected to play in the 2012 International Bowl in Austin and also played in the 2011 Tom Hillary All-Star Classic last fall... Active in martial arts and holds first-degree black belts in American karate, tae kwon do and Shizen-Na Karate... Bailiff on Stanley "Great two-way player in high school who has great feet, great leadership skills and loves to play. You don't achieve what he has in his martial arts without great coordination and discipline."
Tyler Stehling QB 6-6 205 Spring (Klein Collins)
All District 13-5A selection for coach Drew Swoboda at Kelin Collins HS... Threw for 1,886 yards (123-190) with 18 touchdowns as a senior... Ran for seven more scores... Threw for 3,344 yards and 31 touchdowns, while rushing for 16 more in his career... Team captain as a senior... Also played basketball and baseball... Two-time Academic All-District and a second team Academic All-State pick as a senior... Finalist for the Houston Touchdown Club's Scholar Athlete of the Year... National Honor Society... Bailiff on Stehling "A strong-armed quarterback who runs very well for his size. A great athlete who also is a talented baseball player."
Luke Turner ATH 6-2 210 Gilmer (Gilmer)
Co-MVP, and all District 16-3A selection for coach Jeff Traylor at Gilmer HS ... Joins his Gilmer teammate Darion Pollard as an Owl signee... Gilmer was 43-7 in Turner's three seasons, including a state title in 2009... Passed for 3,972 yards and 40 touchdowns and ran for 1,896 yards and 40 more scores in his career... All district shortstop in baseball... National Honor Society ... Academic All-State second team... Ranks in the top 10% of his senior class... Bailiff on Turner "Versatile playmaker who played quarterback, running back, kicked and played some at H back. His skill set gives us a lot of options."
Michael Warren CB 5-9 175 Frankston (Frankston)
All District 9-2A Division II selection in his first season at quarterback as well as a repeat selection at cornerback for coach Sam Wells at Frankston HS... threw for 1,064 yards and ran for another 1,027 ... Regional qualifier in the triple jump and finished second in the district in the 200 meters... National Honor Society... Academic All-State... Senior class president... Bailiff on Warren: "We discovered him at our camp in Tyler. He has tremendous speed. He played quarterback his senior season and showed tremendous big play ability and athleticism that we feel will transfer to the corner position."
David Wilganowski DE 6-4 235 Bryan (Rudder)
All District 16-4A and All-Brazos Valley selection as a junior for coach C.M. Pier at Bryan Rudder HS, whose career was cut short after a medical issue early in his senior year... Earned honorable mention honors for both as a sophomore... Team Captain and Homecoming King as a senior... Also competed in power lifting and track and was a regional qualifier in the shot as a junior... Academic All-State... Active member of Future Farmers of America, serving as an officer for three years... Bailiff on Wilganowski: "David was an outstanding student-athlete who we got to know at two of our camps and we were excited to have as part of our class when he made his commitment to us. Although his playing career was unfortunately cut short, we are excited to have him bring his great attitude and dedication to the program."
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