The 2020 Rice Football recruiting class was announced on National Signing Day. Eight months later, they’ve become fixtures on the Owls’ roster.
On National Signing Day, head coach Mike Bloomgren addressed the media and fans with a beaming smile. For the first time since the process began more than a year ago, he could talk publically about the 2020 Rice Football recruiting class.
“According to all the experts, this is the highest-rated class in Rice history,” Bloomgren said with confidence, referring to the rankings compiled by 247 sports.
For college football coaches, a new signing class is something akin to new children. None have ever done anything less than sing the praises of their newest additions. Bloomgren, however, doesn’t have to stand on platitudes or flowery language. The players he and his staff have signed have done enough during their time in high school to warrant merit of their own.
Incoming freshman safety Gabe Taylor is the highest-rated recruit Rice football has ever signed. Along the way, Rice signed a collective of players with offers from Washington State, Colorado, NC State, Syracuse, Boston College, Kansas State, Houston and more. The Owls took their national recruiting mandate seriously, scouring the country for the talent they needed. Then they worked tirelessly for months to ensure those players signed on the dotted line.
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With the exception of roughly a dozen players remaining from the class prior to Bloomgren’s arrival, the 2020 roster will be comprised almost entirely of players his staff handpicked. “I think we’ve [raised the ceiling and the floor],” Bloomgren said in early February. “[There’s] a little bit different speed than we’re used to having in this program.” From the speed to the raw athleticism, the talent profile of the current Rice football roster is as high as it’s been in some time.
In many ways, Rice football has come a long way from National Signing Day. They’ve persevered through uncertainty to the brink of their 2020 season. Injuries and setbacks have put their depth to the test early on in fall camp.
Players like Brad Rozner, Naeem Smith and Andrew Bird were expected to be key members of the team. None have participated in team drills so far during camp. Instead, it’s been members of that 2021 class stepping up. Gabe Taylor has had his moments, so to have freshmen corners Jordan Dunbar and Sean Fresch. With running back Juma Otoviano sidelined, Khalan Griffin and Kobie Campbell have shined bright. Braedon Nutter has played everywhere on the interior of the offensive line.
Bloomgren and his staff had high hopes for the class of 2021 when they signed. They might not have expected them to make their mark this early, but this class is proving to be just what the doctor ordered.
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