June 13, 2014
Jordan Taylor and Christian Covington highlight seven Rice Owls who have been named to Athlon Sports' 2014 Conference USA preseason football team.
Both Taylor and Covington were named to the first team and were joined by Bryce Callahan, Nico Carlson and Caleb Williams on the second team and James Radcliffe and James Farrimond on the third team. Callahan was honored both as a cornerback and as a punt returner.
Taylor enters his senior year ranked in the top ten in all three career receiving rankings (sixth with 121 receptions and 1,743 yards, seventh with 13 touchdowns) and has caught a pass in 22 consecutive games. The three-year starter earned second-team All C-USA honors last year.
Covington was a first-team All C-USA selection by league coaches in 2013, becoming the first sophomore defensive tackle from Rice to earn that honor since the return of two platoon football. He lead the Owls with 11.5 tackles for loss last year, despite playing the final five games with a cast on his right hand due to a thumb injury suffered against North Texas.
Callahan heads into his senior year ranked third among active FBS players with 11 career interceptions, which are also tied for fourth all-time at Rice and the most since Dan Dawson picked off 13 from 1998-2001. He led the Owls in 2013 with 10 pass breakups and 13 total passes defended. He was a 2011 Freshman All-American after picking off six passes.
A former walk-on, Farrimond earned a scholarship after an outstanding first year as the Owls punter in 2013. He averaged 42.1 yards on 71 punts, including 11 of better than 50 yards. He saw 15 of his punts downed inside the 20.
Radcliffe returns for his second year as a starter at linebacker, finishing fourth last year with 63 tackles, one sack and four pass breakups and capped his season by being named the Owls top defensive player in the Liberty Bowl by the media covering the game. He will take the field as a senior wearing #26 to honor former Owl Larry Izzo as part of the Owls' Honor Jersey program. Izzo was an All SWC performer in 1995 and despite not being drafted, carved out a long career in the NFL as a special teams performer. Izzo was a three-time Pro Bowl selection and played in four Super Bowls with the Patriots, winning three rings.
Williams is heading into his third year as a starter at tackle and graded out at 90% or higher in eight of 14 games last season. He was an C-USA All Freshman selection in 2012 and an All C-USA honorable mention pick last fall.
Carlson heads into his third year of starting on the offensive line and is tied with fellow guard Drew Carroll for the lead among offensive linemen in games (33) and starts (25). He also will play his senior year sporting a new number, switching to #78 to honor Dr. Richard Chapman as part of the Owls' Honor Jersey program. Dr. Chapman was a member CoSIDA's first two Academic All-American teams while twice earning All-SWC honors as a two-way tackle. He was selected in the first round of the 1954 draft by the Detroit Lions but declined to sign in order to return to Rice and pursue postgraduate studies. He was awarded 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.
Rice will open training camp for the 2014 season on August, leading up to the season opener at Notre Dame on August 30.