April 11, 2014
Three current Rice football players will don new numbers when the Owls open the 2014 football season as they honor three past greats as part of the Owls Honor Jersey program.
Rice announced at halftime of the annual Blue-Gray Spring Game that defensive tackle Christian Covington will switch from #56 to #1 to honor ND Kalu, linebacker James Radcliffe will trade in his #10 for #26 to honor Larry Izzo and offensive guard Nico Carlson will wear #78 to recognize Richard Chapman. This is the third season the Owls have honored their past players in this fashion.
Chapman was a dominant lineman for the Owls in the early 1950 and an equally dominant student in the classroom. He was a two-time, All-Southwest Conference selection and a member of the Owls 1954 Cotton Bowl Champions and was the 13th selection in the first round of the 1954 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions. He was also a member of the first two CoSIDA Academic All American teams and his desire to continue his studies prompted him to turn down the Lions and return to Rice for post-graduate studies. He received his PhD in nuclear physics in 1957 and went on to a distinguished career with General Electric and Texas Instruments, working on projects as varied as visible light emitting displays, infrared detector arrays for night vision and shrinking the dimensions of transistors to permit the development of digital wristwatches, calculators, computers and cellular phones.
Kalu terrorized opposing quarterbacks for four seasons in the early 1990s, earning All Southwest and All WAC honors and helping lead the Owls to a memorable win over Texas and a share of the 1994 Southwest Conference title. He completed his career as the Owls career and single season record holder for sacks. He played for 12 seasons in the NFL, concluding his career as a member of the Houston Texans.
Izzo was only the third linebacker to win the George Martin Award as the Owls MVP, taking home the honor in 1995 and he went on to an All Pro career as a special teams star in the NFL. He played in four Super Bowls and won three rings while a member of the New England Patriots and added a fourth ring as a coach with the New York Giants.
Izzo and Kalu were teammates on the ’94 SWC Co-Champions who will celebrate the 20th anniversary of that memorable season this fall.
All three players will be honored again at a home game this fall.