Rice football recruiting had another positive weekend. Where do the Owls stand in the final few days leading up the early signing period?
There was a full house at South Main in the final days before the Early Signing Period, which starts Wednesday, Dec. 19. In addition to the JUCO and potential grad transfers mentioned earlier in the week, several other key recruits had chances to interact with the coaches this weekend. Rice will add a few of these players to their 2019 class, soon.
Rice has been extremely selective with the players they’re targeting this cycle. Don’t get lost in the stars or their rankings, each recruit on campus this weekend has a skill set which meets a need on this team, either in the short term or in a year or two. With that said, here are a few players of note:
Naeem Smith, Safety
Rice made a lot of headway at defensive back this weekend. JUCO safety Naeem Smith came away floored from the experience, going so far as to say “Rice is all I could ever ask for and more.” He’ll be eligible to enroll in school early, making him a prime target for a decision in the next several days. The Owls are definitely in the lead for his recruitment.
Tre Richardson, Corner
Smith might not be the only DB Rice picks up soon. Tre Richardson, who was also on campus this
Josh Pearcy, Defensive End
In the wake of the departure of Justin Moore from the 2019 class, the staff has focused their attention on press on Josh Pearcy. If there was a priority target from the weekend, this one might be it. Pearcy is quick, explosive and projects well at the next level. The defensive line is fairly deep right now, but Pearcy could fight for immediate playing time.
Nick Leverett, Offensive Line
This race got much more interesting over the weekend. As recently as this week Leverett, a grad transfer from NC Central, started to draw interest from an SEC program. Winning the battle for Leverett, who plans to graduate early and enroll in classes this spring, would be a massive win for this program.
Jake Bailey, Wide Receiver
One of the most dynamic players on one of the best high school teams in the nation, Jake Bailey is a speedy slot receiver who enjoyed his time on campus. He fills a need with the departure of Austin Walter and has a fairly impressive offer list including BYU, Boston College, several Ivies
Zane Heemsoth, Tight End
One of the more dynamic athletes who was on campus this weekend, Zane Heemsoth is being recruited as a tight end by the Owls. He played two ways in high school, switching over to outside linebacker and defensive end when the offense was off the field. A Chicago native, Heemsoth has family in the Houston area.
Connor Hughes, Offensive Line
Hughes, also an offensive lineman, played his high school football at Cinco Ranch and is weighing his options between walking on at Rice or offers from San Diego and Louisiana College. He said it “felt like a family”, an important observation from someone who has made the short drive to South Main several times already.
Those are seven of more than a dozen players who were on campus this weekend. That list doesn’t include players like Swayze Bozeman, Ardell Brown and Adrian Bickham, all of which have recently been to campus and are drawing significant interest from the Owls.
Conservatively, I can confidently say Rice picked up two commitments this weekend. If I were projecting to the near future, it’s possible the Owls could nab as many as six more players from their efforts this month.