Dec. 10, 2013
Ten member of Rice's conference champion squad have been honored by league coaches who named them to the 2013 Conference USA All-Conference football team which was announced on Tuesday.
Senior running back Charles Ross, senior center Nate Richards, senior cornerback Phillip Gaines, senior deep snapper Trevor Gillette and sophomore defensive tackle Christian Covington were named to the first team, while senior kicker Chris Boswell, senior linebacker Michael Kutzler, senior running back Turner Petersen, junior cornerback Bryce Callahan and junior wide receiver Jordan Taylor earned second team honors.
This marks the largest number of Owls to earn All C-USA honors in Rice's nine seasons in the conference as well as more than any number selected to the WAC's all-conference team in nine years Rice was in that league. The Southwest Conference did not select its own team, but chose to honor consensus selections from the various media outlets who announced their own teams. The Owls had a total of 12 players recognized on one of those various all-conference teams in 1993.
Gaines earned first-team honors for the second consecutive year, becomeing the Owls first repeat selection since Jarett Dillard was a three-time choice from 2006-08. He led the team with four interceptions this year while combining with Callahan to shut down many of the conference's top receiving threats. He only allowed 13 receptions in 40 targeted throws during the year.
Ross became the first Owl to lead the league in rushing since Michael Perry in 1997, averaging 113.8 yards. His 1,252 yards this season rank fourth in school history and conference-best 14 rushing touchdowns rank third at Rice.
Richards has anchored the Owls offensive line since joining the squad from Trinity Valley Community College. He has made 26 consecutive starts while leading a line that has allowed Rice to lead the conference and rank 16th in the nation in rushing (240.2 per game).
Gillette returned from injury at the midpoint of the season and returned to his consistent delivery of snaps as well as coverage on punts. He was credited with a pair of tackles and recovered a muffed punt at UTSA to set up a touchdown.
Covington opened the year with sacks in the first two games and continued to dominate along the front line even after suffering a thumb injury at North Texas that limited his ability to grasp with his right hand. He has been credited with a career-high 51 tackles with 9.5 tackles for loss (four sacks).
Boswell continued his ascent up the Rice and C-USA career kicking lists. He is just one point shy of matching Jarett Dillard's school scoring record of 360 points and heads into the Liberty Bowl tied for third in conference history with 65 field goals. He needs two to move into sole possession of second.
Kutzler stepped into a starter's role for the first time in his career after returning All C-USA linebacker Cameron Nwosu was slowed in the rehab of an injured knee and responded by leading the team with 86 tackles.
Rice head coach David Bailiff nominated Petersen as a tight end to reflect his role as more of an H-Back as the 2013 season progressed. He led Rice running backs with 26 catches, including four touchdown catches, before seeing his career end vs. Tulane with a knee injury.
Callahan added three interceptions to his career total of 11 in 2013, the most crucial of which game in the third game of the year vs. FAU. His theft late in the 4th quarter set up the winning touchdown in the owls 19-14 win.
In addition to the 10 players honored on the first two teams, five Owls received honorable mention recognition: Cody Bauer, Taylor McHargue, Paul Porras Andrew Reue and Caleb Williams.
The Owls are currently completing final exams before returning the practice field to being preparations for their December 31st game vs. Mississippi State in the 55th AutoZone Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tennessee.