The top position battles are beginning to surface as Rice football marches onward. Here’s where we stand with three days of fall camp in the books.
Several interesting position battles on the offensive line
The Owls’ revamped offensive line will receive plenty of attention throughout fall camp as a trio of grad transfers vie for starting jobs. One of those new additions, Nick Leverett, seems to have solidified his spot. Leverett was with the team during spring practices and has taken advantage of the extra time in the system. He’s going to claim one of the two starting guard spots, most likely on the left side, where he’s lined up so far during camp.
The other two grad transfers, Brian Chaffin and Justin Gooseberry, have less certain futures.
Shea Baker looks to have the starting center job locked down, at least for now, and Cole Garcia has been taking the majority of the reps with the first team at the right guard spot. Chaffin is an interior guy with experience coming off the bench at Stanford. It’s possible he’ll serve as a “sixth man” for the Owls’ offensive line, spelling starters on drives throughout games.
Another plug — if you haven’t downloaded a copy of the 2019 Rice Football Preview yet, there’s five pages and 2,000+ words on the offensive line.
Gooseberry is listed as the co-starter with Uzoma Osuji at right tackle on the pre-camp depth chart. The battle between those two has been intense and could go down to the wire. Osuji raised his level of play last year, beating out Florida grad transfer Andrew Mike. Gooseberry looks to be a more formidable challenger.
Wide receiver remains up in the air
There are a lot of reps available at wide receiver. As mentioned in the first camp update, August Pitre III has taken up the majority of the reps with the first team. A new wrinkle, though, has been freshman Zane Knipe forcing his way into the mix. He’s got sticky hands and moves well in the field. He’s a step ahead of some of the returning veterans and he’s just beginning to learn the ins and the outs of the offense.
Rounding out the rest of the starters, Austin Trammell looks as reliable as ever. Bradley Rozner has been steady, but hasn’t yet shown the ability to fully utilize his size downfield. He’s tall, but he’s lankier than Aaron Cephus. He’s going to have to get more physical to meet the demands of the Owls’ offense, which lacks any semblance of size apart from him.
Toughness will be the bedrock of this team
The Oklahoma drill is a favorite at South Main. Energy has been high this week, but things seem to crank up an extra notch when pads start popping. Several veterans flashed during Saturday’s session; Blaze Alldredge, Tyrae Thornton, Justin Gooseberry, Anthony Ekpe, Shea Baker and Clay Servin stood out the most.
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