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Rice Owls Unexpectedly Soar to the Top of Conference USA Recruiting Rankings

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David Bailiff’s hot seat isn’t scaring recruits away.

NCAA Football: Rice at Texas Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

The past two weeks have been a whirlwind of success on the recruiting trail for the Rice Owls. While head coach David Bailiff is widely considered to be on the hot seat at Rice, prospective student-athletes are not hesitating to commit to his program.

Over the past two weeks Bailiff’s recruiting class has grown from just one commitment to a whopping 13, easily placing the Owls’ class at the top of Conference USA after jumping UTSA and Louisiana Tech. Per 247 Sports, Rice also currently sits at the 53rd overall commitment ranking in the nation, standing above prestigious programs such as Georgia, Alabama, and Stanford.

While the Owls kicked off their class with the addition of 6’5”, 300 pound offensive tackle James Bagnell on May 31st, Rice’s recruiting class didn’t fully hit its stride until Strake Jesuit defensive end Miles Adams committed on June 9th, setting off a chain of commitments leading up to today.

The Owls would grab commitments from defensive end Joshua Sanders and cornerback Jason White just three days later.

All nine of the Owls’ remaining commitments submitted their verbal intention to play at Rice over an insane three day span from June 15th to June 17th. Each of Rice’s commitments hail from the Lone Star State, with four future Owls hailing from the greater Houston area.

Bailiff might have found his quarterback of the future during that three-day commitment spree after he landed three-star Coppell High School stand out Brady McBride.

The Owls gained McBride’s services over scholarship offers from Bowling Green, Columbia, Navy, and Texas State. McBride earned his district’s overall MVP honors as a junior after passing for 2,571 yards and 32 touchdowns. The Coppell gunslinger also added 547 yards on the ground for seven rushing touchdowns. McBride’s name is well known in Texas high school football circles as he’s the son of state champion and current Baylor assistant Joe McBride.

McBride will be joined in the backfield by one of the most dynamic running backs in the state of Texas. Cibolo Steele product Brendan Brady currently holds 20 FBS scholarship offers and turned down a scheduled visit to Duke to honor his commitment to Rice. While Brady first started to garner serious recruiting attention following this insane front flip he posted after his freshman season, he has since proved his athletic ability translates to more than just viral social media videos.

Rounding out the top of Rice’s current 2018 class are a pair of twins from Cinco Ranch High School in the Houston suburb of Katy. Blake and Brant Kuithe both spurned Power Five scholarship offers to stay home in Houston.

Blake is higher rated on recruiting services (.8403 on 247 Composite) however, both players are electric athletes. Brant is Cinco Ranch’s offensive spark, rushing for 1,891 yards and 24 touchdowns last season. Brent is the team’s defensive star and totaled 94 tackles, six sacks, and 25 quarterback hurries in his junior campaign. The Kuithe brothers will be the second Houston-area twins to join the Rice program as Austin and Aston Walter of Crosby High School enter their redshirt junior seasons.

While Rice’s currently-assembled class is incredibly impressive we should include the caveat that the Owls do have precedent for their recruiting classes rapidly falling apart.

The Owls boasted the top recruiting class for an extended period during the last cycle but finished with the 12th ranked class in C-USA once Letters of Intent rolled in on National Signing Day. As always, take the recruiting rankings with a grain of salt but it’s a huge sign for recruits’ perception of the program that the Owls are able to amass such talent with a coach on the hot seat.