Once again the Rice recruiting class had a distinct Lone Star feel, but with one intriguing Alaskan exception.
Lance Wright is the only Alaska high school football player listed in the Rivals.com recruiting database. That’s one out of a more than 8,000, a recent Sports Illustrated article explained.
Next fall, he’ll go from North Pole High School to Rice University. Wright, a wide receiver, is one of 19 players to sign letters of intent with Rice on National Signing Day Wednesday. The class was rated No. 94 by Rivals.com and No. 103 by Scout.com,
At first glance, Wright is the only non-Texans in the group. However, that’s not 100 percent accurate. Wright was born in Irving, Texas, but his family moved to Fairbanks when he was 6.
Wright was named Alaska’s Mr. Football as a senior. His high school totals were 90 receptions for 1,873 yards and 26 touchdowns. He had to come to Houston and basically audition to get his scholarship offer. As the SI article points out, he got the offer after 20 minutes of sprinting and route running.
“Lance is a big, athletic wide receiver that can stretch the field vertically,“ Rice coach David Bailiff said. “He has excellent ball skills and is very good running with the ball after the catch. He has a very bright future as a wide receiver.”
Joining Wright as Rice recruits at the wide receiver position are the 6-5 Trevor Long of East Bernard and 6-2 James Mayden of Rowlett. Mayden finished his career with 67 catches for 938 yards, rushed for 1,134 yards, returned five kicks for touchdowns and had 71 tackles and seven interceptions on defense.
“James is a tremendous athlete with a huge upside,“ Bailiff said. “He is a very explosive runner and has a big frame. [He] catches the ball well and adjusts to the deep ball very well. He played both wide receiver and safety.”
Throwing the ball to the receivers could at some point be Jeremy Jones, a quarterback who excelled at San Antonio’s East Central High School. The 6-5 dual-threat QB had offers from Air Force, New Mexico, Rutgers and other schools. He is rated as the No. 94 quarterback of the class by Scout.com and tabbed as the No. 10 quarterback by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football.
“Jeremy is a tall, athletic quarterback that is very intelligent and a student of the game” Bailiff said. “He can really throw the football and can make plays when things break down.”
Rice got a two-for-one deal when the Walter twins signed with the Owls. Aston and Alter Walter lit up the scoreboard for Crosby the past few years. Aston played quarterback while Austin was a running back. They combined for nearly 16,000 yards at Crosby.
“Austin is lightning in a bottle,” Bailiff said. “He has great feet and vision, and an incredible burst. He is a very natural runner and makes people miss in space without breaking stride. He catches the ball well and is a playmaker as a kick returner as well.”
Aston is listed as an athlete, so he may see time at several positions.
“Aston is a tremendous athlete with great versatility,” Bailiff said. “He can do a lot of different things and is a guy that has the ability to go the distance every time he touches the ball. He excelled as a QB in high school and will be a threat all over the field.”
To go along with the skill position weapons, Rice signed four offensive lineman: Calvin Anderson (6-6, 250 from Austin Westlake), Cory Klingler (6-4, 298 from Alvin New Caney), Sam Pierce (6-5, 295 from Cypress St. Pius X) and Hunter Ponder (6-5, 265 from Mansfield).
Rice is coming off its first outright conference championship season since the Eisenhower administration. The Owls went 10-4 last season, winning Conference USA and making a trip to the Liberty Bowl in Memphis.
Rice opens the 2014 season with a game at Notre Dame on Aug. 30. It was announced earlier in the week, the team will host C-USA foes Old Dominion, North Texas, UTSA and UTEP this upcoming season.
Rice Football Signings
- Calvin Anderson OL 6-6 250 Austin, TX (Westlake)
- V.J. Banks SAF 6-2 175 Bryan, TX (Bryan)
- Jorian Clark CB 5-9 190 Mesquite, TX (Horn)
- Emmanuel Ellerbee LB 6-0 224 Houston, TX (Strake Jesuit)
- Preston Gordon DL 6-0 277 McKinney, TX (Frisco Heritage)
- J.T. Ibe SAF 6-0 195 Mansfield, TX (Mansfield)
- Jeremy Jones QB 6-5 202 San Antonio, TX (East Central)
- Cory Klingler OL 6-4 298 Alvin, TX (New Caney)
- Trevor Long WR 6-5 219 East Bernard, TX (East Bernard)
- James Mayden WR 6-2 186 Rowlett, TX (Sachse)
- Martin Nwakamma LB 6-0 200 Leander, TX (Leander)
- Sam Pierce OL 6-5 295 Cypress, TX (St. Pius X)
- Hunter Ponder OL 6-5 265 Mansfield, TX (Mansfield)
- Samuel Stewart RB 5-9 195 Cypress, TX (Cy Woods)
- Aston Walter ATH 5-8 191 Crosby, TX (Crosby)
- Austin Walter RB 5-7 180 Crosby, TX (Crosby)
- Destri White ATH 6-0 200 Mesquite, TX (Horn)
- Brady Wright DE 6-3 231 Cypress, TX (Cy-Fair)
- Lance Wright WR 6-3 185 Fairbanks, AK (North Pole)
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