Feb. 2, 2011
Rice head football coach David Bailiff announced the signing of 19 high school seniors to national letters of intent to play football for the Owls.
"We have added some dynamic and exciting talent today," Bailiff said. "This is a deep class that addresses a number of areas of need. We had great success inside the state of Texas, and we also continued our efforts in Canada. This is a class that is ready to come to Rice and excel both academically and on the field. " he added.
The 19 players include 18 from Texas and one from Canada. Of the Texans, nine are from the Greater Houston area, and three each from the Dallas and San Antonio areas. Breaking down the Texans, seven played at the 5A level, seven at the 4A level, two at the 2A level and two played for private schools in TAPPS.
Justin Booth, DE 6-6, 250, Dayton (High) - Video
All District 19-4A selection at offensive tackle for coach Jerry Stewart... Member of the Houston Chronicle's Greater Houston 100... Two-year starter for the Broncos who reached the Region III D2 finals in his junior year and the regional semifinalist as a senior... Three-year starter on the Broncos' basketball team, averaging 15 points and 12 rebounds... competes in power lifting and is a member of the debate team. Bailiff on Booth: "I like the attitude that Justin Booth plays with. He jumps off the video because he is athletic and passionate about the game."
Christian Covington, DT 6-3, 285, Surrey, British Columbia, Canada (Vancouver College Prep) - Video
Provincial Defensive MVP for coach Todd Bernett while leading the Fighting Irish to the Provincial Championship... Ranked as the top defensive lineman in Canada... Credited with 83 tackles, including 15 sacks as a senior... Had 276 tackles and 38 sacks in his career... Credited with four tackles in the 2010 National Underclassmen Combine All World Gridiron Classic in Charleston, SC. ... Son of CFL Hall of Famer Grover Covington, who was a star defensive end in the league from 1981-1991. Bailiff on Covington: "His upside is going to be amazing. He just turned 17 in October. He runs well and is very powerful. He's been well-coached by his father and uses great technique."
Nick Elder, LB 6-0, 210, San Antonio (Central Catholic) - Video
TAPPS Division I All-State and All-District selection as a senior for coach Calos Enrico, despite missing all but the last five games of the season because of an injury... Returned to action and recorded 67 tackles (43 solos and 24 assisted) in those five games... Named to the San Antonio Express News Sub 5A All Area second team (includes public and private schools)... Academic All State selection. Bailiff on Elder: "He's a sideline to sideline player who has tremendous hip explosion when he tackles."
Jaylon Finner, DB 5-10, 185, Missouri City (Elkins) - Video
Two-time All District 23-5A selection for coach Robert Crivellari... Ranked by Rivals.com as the 45th best safety prospect in the nation... Credited with 78 tackles, 5 sacks, 1 interception and 7 pass breakups and a senior and finished his career with 176 tackles and six interceptions... Named to Dave Campbell's Texas Football postseason top 10 safeties... Member of the Houston Chronicle's Greater Houston 100... Also competes in track... Member of the National Honor Society and received Elkin's Academic Excellence Award. Bailiff on Finner: "He's a high safety who really comes downhill to the ball. He tackles well in space and has great coverage skills."
Lovett Gibson, WR 6-2, 185, Cedar Hill (High) - Video
All District 5-5A selection for coach Joey McGuire and a teammate of fellow 2011 signee Driphus Jackson... Caught 64 passes for 1.206 yards and 13 touchdowns as a senior... Longhorns won district titles in his junior and senior years... Named to 5A TexasFootball.com's All Texas second team... A member of Dave Campbell's Texas Football Top 300 and tabbed as one of the top 25 wide receivers... Named to the All-DFW Area second team by Old Coach.com... also played basketball and ran track... Active in Cedar Hill's PTSA for four years as well in as in student leadership. Bailiff on Gibson: "Lovett is an amazing athlete. He has a 38-inch vertical leap and great body control. He times his leap out to the high point of the pass."
Malcom Hill, WR 5-11, 180, Plano (Frisco Liberty) - Video
Two-time All District 9-4A selection for coach Galen Zimmerman ... Led the Red Hawks to the state playoffs for the first two times in school history, reaching the Region 2 semifinals each time... Had 74 career receptions for 997 yards and 14 TDs, while rushing for 1,495 yards and 12 TDs in his career... Earned all district honors in basketball as a point guard and was the district Freshman of the Year... A member of Dave Campbell's Texas Football Top 300 and tabbed as one of the top 25 wide receivers... Served on the student council and a member of the National Technical Honor Society and the National Society of High School Scholars. Bailiff on Hill: He is a guy who can do it all. You just want to get the ball in his hands. Excelled at any position he was asked to play."
Edwin Hooper, DE 6-4, 215, Nash (Texarkana Texas) - Video
Two-time All District 13-4A selection for coach Barry Norton ... Finished his career with 127 tackles, 14 sacks, forced 5 fumbles and recovered two others... Named to Smoky.com's All-NE Texas team... Active in student leadership at Texas High, serving on the student council as well as Students Against Destructive Decisions and worked on the school's TigerVision video production effort. Bailiff on Hooper: "Edwin can really move for a guy his size. He is fast off the football and plays with great pad leverage. He can sink his hips and change direction."
Driphus Jackson, QB 6-0, 195, Cedar Hill (High) - Video
MVP of District 5-5A for coach Joey McGuire and a teammate of fellow 2011 signee Lovett Gibson... Earned a berth in the US Army All America All Star Game after being named the winner of 'The Ride" a reality television show that selected the top "under the radar" prep quarterback... Threw for over 2,900 yards and 30 TDs as a senior and added over 600 yards on the ground... Three-year starter for the Longhons.. A member of Dave Campbell's Texas Football Top 300 and tabbed as one of the top 25 quarterbacks... Honorable mention Academic All State selection. Bailiff on Jackson: "It is amazing how Driphus can extend a play. He is always looking down field, but when he decides to pull the ball down, he is a threat when he becomes a runner."
Miles Lee, DE 6-4, 230 East Bernard (High) - Video
All District 15-2A D2 and honorable mention All State selection for coach Jerry Long as a senior at East Bernard ... Named to Dave Campbell's Texas Football postseason All Texas High School team... Committed to the Owls in the summer before his senior year... Earned second-team all district honors as a sophomore and junior as a tight end... District Newcomer of the Year as a sophomore... Placed fifth in the 2010 Texas High School Power Lifting also competes in track. Bailiff on Lee: "Miles is very explosive into the offensive lineman. He can attack, separate and shed. He's very quick for his size and has long arms to keep people off him."
Grant Peterson, TE 6-5, 225 Austin (Westwood) - Video
All District 16-5A selection as a senior for Anthony Wood after switching to wide receiver for his senior year... Played quarterback in his first year at Westwood after moving from Wisconsin... Caught 52 passes for 788 yards and eight touchdowns as a senior... Committed to the Owls in the summer before his senior year... Also competes in the 400 meters in track. Bailiff on Peterson "Grant is someone who came to camp when he was first switching to receiver but he showed great body control, ran great routes and has soft hands and great speed for his size."
John Poehlmann, OL 6-5, 260 Brenham (High) - Video
All District 17-4A selection as a senior for coach Glen West and a three-year starter for the Cubs, who reached the state title game in his junior season... Member of the Houston Chronicle's Greater Houston 100... Comes from an athletic family, father , Luke, played for two years at Houston, while all three brothers Mathew (New Mexico, 2001-05), Mark (Blinn JC, 2003-05) and Luke (Texas, 2009-present) played past high school... Throws the discus in the spring... Active in FCA and Young Life at Brenham High. Bailiff on Poehlmann "He comes from a great program and from a football family. He's very athletic and will have an impact on our offensive line."
Andrew Reue, OL 6-5, 280 Austin (St. Michaels Academy) - Video
TAPPS Division I All State and All District selection as a senior for coach Ed McCabe at St. Michaels... Crusaders reached the state semifinals in his senior year after advancing to the quarterfinals as a junior... All district pick as a junior and second-team all district as a sophomore... Competed in track as the Crusaders won state titles in both his junior and senior year... Academic All State selection... Eagle Scout... Student Council vice president and a member of the National Honor Society. Bailiff on Reue "Andrew came to camp a year ago and was 6-3 and about 250, and in that year he shot up to 6-5. 280. His development has been exciting to watch."
Michael Sam Jr., DE 6-2, 250 Houston (Strake Jesuit) - Video
Two-time All District 19-5A coach Ron Counter ... Served as a team captain as both a junior and a senior... Credited with 73 tackles, including 6 ½ sacks, seven pass breakups, blocked on field goal, forced two fumbles and recovered two others... Committed to the Owls in the summer before his senior year... A member of Dave Campbell's Texas Football Top 300 and tabbed as one of the top 25 defensive linemen in the state prior to his senior year... Member of the Houston Chronicle's Greater Houston 100 . Bailiff on Sam: "In addition to what you see on film, what jumps out at you about Michael is that he was a team captain for two years. He's a tremendous athlete who also has tremendous leadership ability."
J.J. Walker, WR 6-0, 175 Linden (Linden-Kildare) - Video
All District 8-2A D2 selection as a senior for Jerry Bennett ... Earned All NE Texas honors at defensive back... Caught 30 passes for 713 yards and 11 TDs on offense and picked off a pair of passes on defense... Also plays basketball and competes in track... Mother competed in track at Texas Tech. Bailiff on Walker "He was a bit under the radar because he had moved from Ore City, but he's got great hands and can really run. He gets great separation at the top of his routes."
Julius White, ATH, 5-10, 185 Sugar Land (Kempner) - Video
All District 23-5A selection as a senior for James Brown... Triggered the Cougars option attack as a quarterback, rushing for 1,320 yards and 19 touchdowns while throwing for 415 yards and three scores... Honorable mention Academic All State selection. Bailiff on White "Julius gives us a lot of options because there are so many places he could play for us. He was an amazing option quarterback in high school, and has the athleticism to compete on either side of the ball."
Austin Williams, LB, 6-1, 220 Austin (Lake Travis) - Video
All State, All Centex and All District 25-4A selection as a senior for coach Hank Brown, as Lake Travis won its fourth consecutive state title. Named the Defensive MVP of the state title game... Finished his senior season with 174 tackles and with 355 in his career... Third Lake Travis product to sign with Rice in the last two years (Andy Erickson and Trevor Gillette)... Honorable Mention Academic All State... Eagle Scout. Bailiff on Austin Williams "Austin has been an important part of four state championships at Lake Travis and that says a lot. He will spend the next two years on a church mission, and then join us in 2013."
Caleb Williams, OL, 6-3, 270 Rosenberg (Terry) - Video
Two-time All District 23-4A selection for coach Tim Teykl ... Led team in pancake blocks the last two seasons... Also competed in track and was the district shot put champion... First team Academic All State selection... Finalist for Houston Touchdown Club Scholar-Athlete of the Year... Earned the Excellence in Spanish II award, the Excellence in Human Geography award, the Excellence in Health Science Technology Award... A member of Superintendent's Student Advisory Board... President of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes organization and a member of the National Honor Society and is involved in the Health Occupations Students of America. Bailiff on Caleb Williams "Caleb is a great fit when you look at what he has done, both academically and athletically. He will only get bigger and better when he gets here."
Ross Winship, DT, 6-4, 270, The Woodlands (Klein) - Video
Two-time All District 13-5A selection for coach Shane Hallmark... Led team to the state semifinals as a junior... Honorable mention All Greater Houston... Winship's grandfather (Bob Winship) lettered for Rice in 1949-50, while his cousin (Jason Winship) lettered for the Owl earned four letters (1993-96) and was an Academic All WAC selection as a senior ... Competes in track, throwing the shot and discus... Member of the Houston Chronicle's Greater Houston 100... Member of the National Honor Society and the National Art Honor Society. Bailiff on Winship "He plays in a bad mood. He's fun to watch on video. He plays defense the way you want to see it played. He wants to tackle the guy with the ball, and he does it with a chip on his shoulder."
Matt Wofford, OL, 6-7, 320, Cedar Park (High) - Video
All District 25-4A and All Centex selection as a senior for coach Chris Ross as the Timberwolves won the Region 4 title... Second team All State honoree... Credited with 174 knockdowns and allowed just one sack as a senior... Only allowed two sacks in two years as a starter... A member of Dave Campbell's Texas Football Top 300 and tabbed as one of the top 25 offensive linemen in the state prior to his senior year ... Also competed in track and wrestling in high school... Member of the National Society of High School Scholars... Second team Academic All State. Bailiff on Wofford "Matt committed to us last year at camp, but the improvement he made from his junior video to his senior year is absolutely incredible. He is a big man, but he is an athlete."