Feb. 6, 2008
Rice head coach David Bailiff announced the signing of 17 high school seniors to National Letters of Intent to play football for the Owls beginning in the fall of 2008. It was a class that addressed both the team's most pressing needs and the coaching staff's long term vision for the direction of Rice's future recruiting efforts.
"It has been a wonderful day," Bailiff said. "We signed 17 young men who are a great fit at Rice. They are a great academic fit and a great athletic fit. They are difference-makers, not only in this program, but in life.
"We knew that when we started that we needed to increase the athleticism on this team. We wanted to increase our team speed and increase our team size. We fit all of our needs," Bailiff stated.
The Owls signed 13 players from Texas, including nine from the greater Houston area. One of the players the Owls convinced to stay home and play at Rice was Cy Falls running back Shane Turner.
"When you talk about increasing our speed, you have to talk about Shane Turner," Bailiff stated. "He was a finalist for the Houston Offensive Player of the Year. He makes people miss. We needed a running back that every time he carries the ball, you get the extra point team ready, and I think we did that," Bailiff said.
The class includes two players from outside Texas (Ryan Lewis of Baton Rouge, LA and Kyle Martens of Spearfish, SD), in addition to a pair of products from Canada (Stefan Nazar of Toronto and Luke Willson of LaSalle).
One year ago, Bailiff and his staff had barely two weeks after coming to Rice to sign their first class of recruits. The work on the 2008 class began almost immediately after the 2007 class had been introduced.
"11 of these young men actually came to us on our Junior Day last March, and our relationship with them started that day," Bailiff noted. "Three others took unofficial visits to Rice during the summer, and we were able to show them how Rice is about the next 50 years of your life, and not just the next four or five. I think that is one of the reasons they chose Rice," he added.
Bailiff noted the Owls relationships with local coaches was an important factor in their haul of Houston-area talent.
"We had a lot of help from the high school coaches, who know what Rice stands for," he said. "We could not have had the success we have had without their great work."
2008 Rice Owls Recruits
Eric Ball, OL, 6-3, 270, Katy (High)
Eric Ball Highlight video
Two-year starter for coach Gary Joseph and one of the anchors on the Tigers unbeaten 5A state championship squad. Two-time All-District 18-5A and second-team All-Greater Houston as a senior by the Houston Chronicle... Katy was a combined 29-1 in his two years on the varsity... Member of Dave Campbell's Texas Football Top 300... Bailif on Ball: "He's very explosive off the football and had the ability to move people at the point of attack."
Jarrett Ben, DB, 5-10, 160, Garland (High)
Jarrett Ben Highlight video
Two-year starter and second-team All District 10-5A for coach Jeff Jordan... As a junior, helped lead Garland to a 12-3 record and a berth in the Division II 5A semifinals... Credited with 80 tackles, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and 20 pass breakups in his career... Also ran track for the Owls and was a member of Garland's 4x200 meter relay that finished second at the 2007 state meet... Also ran a leg on the Owls 4x100 meter relay that finished third... Member of the National Honor Society and carries a 3.94 GPA... Bailiff on Ben: "He will be one of the faster guys on our team when he gets here. He has great man-to-man coverage skills. He really stood out at our Dallas camp."
Derek Clark, WR, 6-2, 170, Arlington (Bowie)
Derek Clark Highlight video
Lanky wide receiver who was a teammate of fellow Rice signee Roddy Maginot and helped coach Kenny Perry take the Vols to a share of the District 8-5A title and the Region 1 title game of the 5A Division 1 playoffs... finished his senior season with 30 catches for 340 yards and four touchdowns...Three-year letterman in track and also earned two letters as a member of the debate team... Bailiff on Clark: "He runs well for a tall receiver. He is fast and combines that with great leaping ability."
John Gioffre, DL, 6-1, 293 Katy (Cinco Ranch)
John Gioffre Highlight video
Two-time All District 18-5A selection and a three-year starter for coach Don Clayton... Led Cinco Ranch to the playoffs his last two years... Member of the Houston Chronicle's Houston Top 100 players... Also a standout wrestler who is unbeaten and unscored upon this year and finished fifth at the state meet as a junior... Two-time Academic All District selection as well... Elected Homecoming King... Bailiff on Gioffre: "He will have an immediate impact. He has the size and strength to come in and compete right away."
Clay Hebert, OL, 6-3, 290, Spring (Klein)
Clay Hebert Highlight video
Two-time All District 16-5A second team selection for coach Stan Labay. Led the Bulldogs into the second round of the Division 1 5A playoffs... Member of Dave Campbell's Texas Football Top 300... Also participated in track... A member of the National Honor Society and an Eagle Scout who carries a 4.1 GPA on a 5.0 scale... Bailiff on Hebert: "He will only be 17 when he graduates from high school. He has great balance and flexibility and has the ability to push the pile."
Chris Jammer, DB, 6-1, 175, Sweeney (High)
Chris Jammer Highlight video
Two-time All District 24-3A selection for coach Thomas Zajicek as both a defensive back and wide receiver... Member of Dave Campbell's Texas Football Top 300... Lettered in both basketball and track as well... Unanimous selection both ways as a senior... A member of the National Honor Society and National Association of High School Scholars who carries a 3.9 GPA and was a second-team Academic All State selection... A cousin of former Rice all-american pitcher Kenny Baugh, UTEP WR Johnnie Lee Higgins and former Texas DB Quentin Jammer... Bailiff on Jammer: "We set out this year to get taller at cornerback and he fits that bill. He has good speed, combined with great body control."
Ryan Lewis, QB, 6-3, 200, Baton Rouge, LA (Catholic)
Ryan Lewis Highlight video
Two-time All Metro selection at quarterback for coach Dale Weiner. Earned District 3-5A MVP honors as a junior and 5-5A accolades as a senior... Two-time honorable mention All State selection... Was 34-5 in his career as a starter... Threw for 3,998 yards and 43 touchdowns in his career... Led Catholic to a pair of appearances in the state semifinals... Also earned all-district honors in baseball as a junior outfielder... Academic All-State selection and member of the National Honor Society who carries a 3.8 GPA... Coaches youth basketball in his spare time... Bailiff on Lewis: "He has great size for a quarterback, but what you see on film is someone who has the total package. He can work himself out of trouble with his feet, his arm, and his mind."
Roddy Maginot, WR, 5-10, 170, Arlington (Bowie)
Roddy Maginot Highlight video
Speedy wide receiver who was an All District 8-5A selection for coach Kenny Perry... teamed with fellow Rice signee Derek Clark to lead the Volunteers to a share of the District 8-5A title and the Region 1 5A Division 1 championship game.... Bowie had never won a playoff game prior to this year... Caught 61 passes for 917 yards and a city-record 12 touchdowns as a senior... Rushed for an additional 118 yards and a pair of touchdowns... Finished his career with 98 catches for 1.536 yards and 19 touchdown catches... Named to the 7 on 7 state championship all tournament team... Member of Dave Campbell's Texas Football Top 300... Carries a 3.8 GPA... Bailiff on Maginot: "He's extremely athletic and has great hands. He has that combination you seek, ability to not only catch the ball, but the speed to make big plays."
Kyle Martens, P/K, 6-6, 190, Spearfish, SD (High)
Kyle Martens Highlight video
All-around athlete who was a first-team 11A All State selection by the South Dakota High School Coaches Association as a senior for coach Chuck Syverson... Ranked as the #6 punter after attending the Chris Sailer Kicking Camp in Las Vegas... Named his team's most improved player as well as the special teams MVP... Averaged 42.6 as a punter, including a career-best, 82-yard kick... Averaged 82% touchbacks on his kickoffs... Also played wide receiver... Three-year letterman in basketball and track who finished fifth as a junior in the high jump at the state meet... Active in FCA and Young Life in high school... Bailiff on Martens: "He has a live leg and has a great deal of athletic ability at his size."
Stefan Nazar, OL, 6-5, 290, Toronto, Ontario (Michael Power)
Offensive lineman who enrolled at Rice for the spring semester... Four-year letterman and Defensive MVP for coach Dan Delmastro... Also named Lineman of the Year... Plays the violin in his spare time and was president of the Robotics Club in high school. Bailiff on Nazar: "He has great natural size and has tremendous upside. He will really benefit from the exposure he has this spring to the program."
Michael Patterson, ATH, 5-11, 170, Rockwall (High)
Michael Patterson Highlight video
Speedy wide receiver who was a unanimous All District 10-5A selection for coach Scott Smith... Caught 68 passes for 851 yards and 10 touchdowns as a senior, and finished his career with 93 receptions for 1,215 yards and 13 scores... Also named team captain... Member of Dave Campbell's Texas Football Top 300... Earned second-team all district honors at cornerback as a junior... Lettered twice in track... A member of the National Society of High School Scholars who carries a 3.7 GPA... Bailiff on Patterson: "A great athlete who can play on either side of the ball. He has great hands and great body control."
Michael Smith, DL, 6-1, 270, Bay City (High)
Michael Smith Highlight video
Stout defender who was a two-time unanimous All District 24-4A selection and a three-year starter for coach Danny Edelman... Earned second-team All State honors by the Texas Sports Writers Association... Also lettered in basketball (twice) and track (four times).... Named to the Texas Prep Extra Houston Top 100... Member of the National Honor Society for three years... Bailiff on Smith: "An extremely athletic defensive lineman who, along with John Gioffre, was the standout of our Houston camp."
Shane Turner, RB, 5-9, 170, Houston (Cy Falls)
Shane Turner Highlight video
A member of the Texas Top 100 and rated the 28th best all-purpose back this year... Unanimous All District 17-5A selection for coach David Raffield while leading Cy Falls into the second round of the state playoffs... Turner's Offensive Coordinator at Cy Falls was Todd Thompson, who was a four-year letterman at Rice (1988-91) ... scored 28 touchdowns and averaged eight yards per carry (1,513 yards on 189 carries) as a senior, while catching 26 passes for another 302 yards and a touchdown... Returned a kickoff 100 yards in a nationally televised game vs. Cy Fair on ESPN... Rushed for 1,290 yards and scored 14 times as a junior to lead Cy Falls to the Division 2 5A title game... Finalist for the Touchdown Club of Houston's Offensive Player of the Year... Member of Dave Campbell's Texas Football Top 300 and the Houston Chronicle's Texas Top 100... Bailiff on Turner: "An electric talent who shows a great knack for making people miss him. He has great change-of-direction instincts that make him difficult to defend."
Denzel Wells, WR, 5-11, 180, Houston (Cy Falls)
Denzel Wells Highlight video
All District 17-5A selection for coach David Raffield while leading Cy Falls into the second round of the state playoffs... Well's Offensive Coordinator at Cy Falls was Todd Thompson, who was a four-year letterman at Rice (1988-91)... Averaged 20.6 yards per catch (43 catches for 927 yards) and caught 10 touchdowns as a senior... Averaged 26.4 yards on 17 kickoff returns, returning two for scores... Bailiff on Wells: "An elusive receiver who combines great speed with great hands."
Xavier Webb, DB, 5-11, 200, Montgomery (High)
Xavier Webb Highlight video
Two-time All District 18-4A selection at quarterback for coach John Bolfing... Threw for 1,175 and rushed for 1,221 as a senior... Finished his career with 4,198 yards passing and 2.489 rushing.... Member of Dave Campbell's Texas Football Top 300 and the Houston Chronicle's Texas Top 100... District offensive MVP as a junior... Named the district's newcomer of the year after earning a starting spot as a safety as a freshman... moved to quarterback for his next three years... USAA National Minority Leadership Award winner... Elected Homecoming King... Four-time Academic All District selection.... Member of the National Honor Society... Bailiff on Wells: "Has great change-of-direction skills. He has the natural ability and tools to become a great defensive back."
Jared Williams, TE/DE, 6-3, 230, Huntsville (High)
Jared Williams Highlight video
Second-team All District 18-4A selection at tight end for coach Mitchell Coey... Named team offensive MVP... caught 26 passes for 412 yards and three TDs as a senior... totaled 544 yards receiving and four TD catches as a junior... Three-time Academic All District selection... National Honor Society member who carries a 4.9 ERA on a 5.0 scale. Ranked in the top 5% of his class... AAlso a member of the German Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta math honorary society... President of The Woodlands Area chapter of Jack and Jill of American, Inc. Bailiff on Williams: "Has extremely good speed for a big man. A real leader on and off the field who excels in everything he does."
Luke Willson, TE, 6-5, 240, LaSalle, Ontario (St. Thomas of Villanova)
Luke Willson Highlight video
Three-year all conference selection for coach Tim Maitre... Caught 29 passes for 638 yards and eight touchdowns as a senior on offense, while racking up 60 tackles, including five sacks, on defense... Named his school's Athlete of the Year as both a junior and a senior... Also played on a summer team, the Essex Ravens, and caught 18 passes for 473 yards and 10 touchdowns... played hockey, baseball and soccer in addition to competing in track in high school... Carries a 4.0 GPA... Bailiff on Willson: "He has great size for a tight end and he catches the ball well. He will be a dual threat as both a receiver and a blocker."