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Rice football leads the way in all-Conference USA selections

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The Rice football team came out on top in another Conference USA category on Tuesday.

Three days after the Owls downed Marshall 41-24 to win its first Conference USA title, the Owls edged our the Herd for most all-conference selections. The teams were voted on by the conference’s 14 head coaches.

A total of 10 Rice players were chosen for the first and second teams. Marshall had nine followed by East Carolina with eight. Individual player awards won’t be announced until Wednesday.

Chosen for the first team from Rice were:

  • Charles Ross, senior running back
  • Nate Richards, senior center
  • Christian Covington, sophomore defensive tackle
  • Phillip Gaines, senior cornerback
  • Trevor Gillette, senior deep snapper

Running behind Richards and the other offensive lineman, Ross led the conference in rushing with 1,252 yards. He also topped the list for most rushing touchdowns with 14.

Covington anchored a defensive line that was better than expected in 2013. He finished with 91 tackles, 9.5 for a loss and four sacks. The Vancouver, Canada native also forced a fumble, recovered a fumble and blocked a kick.

Gaines led the Owls with four interceptions. He made 34 tackles and notched 7 pass break ups. He was Rice’s only two-time first-team selection, earning the honor last year with current San Francisco 49ers tight end Vance McDonald.

Gillette recovered a fumble punt against UTSA and provided stellar special teams play when he was healthy.

Another special teams player had to settle for second-team all-Conference USA. Kicker Cairo Santos of Tulane won the first team honor again with Boswell runner-up. Boswell made 14 of 21 on field goals and 46 of 48 extra points in 2013.

Joining Boswell on the second-team were

  • Michael Kutzler, senior linebacker
  • Turner Petersen, senior running back
  • Bryce Callahan, junior cornerback
  • Jordan Taylor, junior wide receiver

The 10 players chosen was the highest number since the university joined the C-USA nine years ago. Rice also never hit double-digit all-conference selections during its nine seasons in the WAC.

Five other Owls received honorable mention recognition from C-USA. They are Cody Bauer, Taylor McHargue, Paul Porras, Andrew Reue and Caleb Williams.

Other first-team skill position selection were East Carolina quarterback Shane Carden, Tulsa running back Trey Watts, East Carolina wide receiver Justin Hardy, Tulane wideout

Ryan Grant and Marshall wide receiver Tommy Shuler. The tight end was Will Simmons of East Carolina.

Here’s the complete list of honorees.

Conference USA also released its all-freshman team on Tuesday. No Owls were on the list.

Rice (10-3) faces Mississippi State (6-6) in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis on Dec. 31. The Owls have never won bowl games before in consecutive years.

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