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Rice 2017 National Signing Day results

Owls bring abroad 17 players on NSD, including a trio of 3-star athletes

North Texas v Rice Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images

Rice is getting help on both sides of the ball in 2017 for what could be a make-or-break year for Owls coach David Bailiff.

The Owls signed 17 high school seniors on Wednesday, all but two of which are from Texas.

The class includes a sizable pickup late in Kenneth Orji, a 3-star linebacker from Missouri City. He decided Monday he would sign with Rice.

“He’s a tenacious four-tool player who can tackle, rush, blitz and cover,” Rice coach David Bailiff said. “He is a diamond in the rough that we were really excited to add to this class down the stretch.”

Orji had offers from a SEC school (Vanderbilt), a Big 10 school (Illinois) and several other G5 schools, such as Fresno State and Navy. The 6-2, 215-pound linebacker/defensive end recorded 142 tackles and 8.5 sacks during his senior year at Fort Bend Elkins High School.

Orji is one of several recruits from Houston’s suburban high schools as the Owls again had success recruiting locally, especially on the west side of the city. Cornerback Isaiah Richardson and linebacker Garrett Grammer played at Richmond Foster, while running back Cameron Montgomery and linebacker Randall Royall are attending Stratford High School.

Of course it wouldn’t be a Rice recruiting class if Canada didn’t get in on the party. This year’s north of the border recruit is Gregor MacKellar, a 6-4, 310-pound offensive tackle. Rice’s other non-Texas recruit is Will Harrison, a kicker from Indiana.

The Owls’ other 3-star recruits are George Nyakwol, a cornerback who played at Aldine Eisenhower in Houston, and Miklo Smalls, a dual-threat quarterback at Plano East who ran for more than 1,000 yards last season.

“He’s a playmaker in and out of the pocket who can extend plays with his feet and his arm,” Bailiff said.

Smalls was one of several signees who verbally committed over the summer. In fact, Orji and Montgomery were the only star-rated players Rice added since Aug. 2.

Rice did lose one verbal commit on Wednesday. Tight end Baron Odom signed with Oklahoma State.

Overall, the Owls class ranked 13th out of 14 teams in the 247 Sports composite C-USA rankings. Only UTEP had less 3-star recruits than Rice (UAB also had three).

Here’s a look at the newest Owls:

Rice 2017 Recruiting Class

Position Name Height Weight Hometown High School 247 Composite Committed
Position Name Height Weight Hometown High School 247 Composite Committed
CB George Nyakwol 6-1 180 Houston Aldine Eisenhower 3 Star 3/21/16
QB Miklo Smalls 6-2 195 Plano Plano East 3 Star 6/13/16
LB Kenneth Orji 6-2 215 Missouri City Elkins 3 star 1/30/17
OT Corbin Smith 6-4 320 Port Neches Nederland 2 Star 6/8/16
CB TyRae Thornton 6-0 175 Houston Cy Ridge 2 Star 2/18/16
CB Isaiah Richardson 6-1 195 Richmond Foster 2 Star 6/8/16
LB Randall Royall 6-2 220 Houston Stratford 2 Star 6/21/16
LB Garrett Grammer 6-1 215 Richmond Foster 2 Star 6/8/16
WR Cameron Montgomery 5-7 155 Houston Startford 2 Star 1/22/17
WR Chris Boudreaux 6-0 160 Beaumont Beaumont Central 2 Star 4/10/16
OT Gregor MacKellar 6-4 350 Timberlea, Nova Scotia St. Andrews 2 Star 6/6/16
OL Brandt Peterson 6-7 250 Austin Hyde Park Baptist 2 Star 6/22/16
TE Jaeger Bull 6-4 210 Corpus Christi Flour Bluff 2 Star 6/15/16
WR Austin Trammell 5-11 175 Spring Klein 2 Star 8/1/16
OL Shea Baker 6-3 275 Round Rock Cedar Ridge Not listed 2/1/17
K Will Harrison 5-11 175 Westfield, Ind. Westfield Not listed 2/1/17
DL Trey Schuman 6-3 280 Burleson Burleson Not listed 2/1/17