by Chuck Pool (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Three current members of the Rice Owls will don new jersey numbers for the first time during Friday’s Blue-Gray game as they honor three past Owls as the latest class of Honor Jerseys.
Kickoff for the annual game to wrap up spring football drills is set for 8:00 p.m. at Rice Stadium.
Senior wide receiver Zach Wright, who has worn #9 during his career, will switch to #17 in honor of David Houser (1974-78), linebacker Emmanuel Ellerbee is moving from #42 to #58 in honor of Donald Bowers (1987-90) and offensive lineman Peter Godber is switching from #51 to #73 to honor Ray Alborn.
Beginning in 2012, Rice head coach David Bailiff has honored past notable Rice football players by having current member of the team who play the same position change numbers. King Hill and O.J. Brigance were honored the first year. In 2013, the Owls honored the first three African-American players at Rice (Rodrigo Barnes, Stahle Vincent and Mike Tyler) along with Bucky Allshouse, who was their recruiting host. In 2014, Larry Izzo, N.D. Kalu and Richard Chapman were honored while in 2015; Jeff Rose and Dr. Leland Winston saw players change to their numbers.
“So many great men have worn these numbers at Rice over the years and this is a way that our current players can embrace what it means to be the next to do so,” Bailiff said. “Every former player we have called has been genuinely touched to learn he has been selected to be honored.”
Alborn was a starting offensive lineman on the first back-to-back bowl teams in school history (1961 Sugar Bowl and 1961 Bluebonnet Bowl) and served as a team captain in 1961. After 10-year stint as a high school coach, he returned to Rice as an assistant under Al Conover in 1971 and in 1978 he became Rice’s first homegrown head coach when he succeeded Homer Rice. He coached the Owls from 1978-1983 and later coached at Lamar from 1986-90.
Bowers was a three-year starter at linebacker alongside Brigance for the Owls and was the team’s third-leading tackling in both 1988 & 89. While completing his degree at Rice he served a student intern in the Research group of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas and began working there after graduation. He was named vice president of Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas’ Houston Branch in 2015. He is past president of the Association of Rice Alumni.
Houser graduated from Rice as the Owls career leader in receiving (152), receiving yards (2,358) and receiving touchdowns (18) and he currently ranks sixth in receptions, third in yards and touchdowns. He holds the Owls’ single game reception record with 14, set on the road at Florida in 1976.