Another top-flight Rice football recruiting class is in the books and like many beforehand, it carries some history-making swagger.
“Today was a great day for the Rice Owls,” head coach Mike Bloomgren said as he opened up his Early Signing Period press conference. “We believe this class will take us soaring to new heights.”
The wording might have changed from year-to-year, but the refrain sure sounded the same. Rice was making waves on the recruiting front, and the best was yet to come.
It took a year or two to get things rolling, but the rhythm of the Rice football recruiting machine continues to amplify. Now, for the third time under head coach Mike Bloomgren, the Owls have made history.
If it feels like this story has been told before, that’s because it has. Under Bloomgren, the 2020 signing class was, at the time, the highest-rated recruiting class in program history. Then, two cycles later, the Owls broke that record with a new best-ever haul with the 2022 class. And now, again, Rice football recruiting has made history.
The rankings will fluctuate some between now and February when the traditional signing day occurs, but as things currently stand, the 2023 class is the No. 80 class in the nation, the highest ranking in school history. When it comes to average recruit rating, the class is second by fractions of a point to the 2022 class, but that could change when newcomers like transfer quarterback JT Daniels are accounted for.
And that’s one other noticeable change as the history-making continues. Daniels, a former high school national player of the year and five-star recruit, has signed with Rice. Daniels is the highest-rated signee in program history. He surpasses four-star commitment quarterback-turned-wide receiver Luke McCaffrey, who was also brought in by Bloomgren and his staff.
On the high school front, the Owls added linebacker Ty Morris and defensive end Joseph Mutombo in this class. Both are among the 10 highest-rated signees in program history, five of which have been signed by this staff in the past five cycles.
No matter where you look, it’s all coming up Owl. “We were trending on Twitter,” recruiting director Marco Regalado mentioned, specifically addressing the late night announcement that Daniels was heading to South Main. “People were talking about the Rice Owls, and that’s recruiting. That helps.”
It’s going to take more than some social media shout outs to turn positive recruiting momentum into results. Regalado and the Rice staff know that as well as anyone. But it wouldn’t be fair to them not to acknowledge how they raised their level of recruiting as they prepare for a big test next season when they move to the AAC.
“What we recruited in the past to compete in that conference is not going to work in the next one. We saw that every year when we played Houston and how athletic they were across the street,” Bloomgren said. “Now, also playing Houston this year and being able to hit them in the mouth a little bit … gives us a lot of hope that as long as we’re signing the right kids from an athletic standpoint, we can make some noise in that conference.”
The Owls have made just about as much noise as they could on the recruiting front. Up next? The AAC.
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