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August 9, 2011On one particular play early in practice this week freshman Wide Receiver J.J. Walker made every defensive back on the Rice team a little uncomfortable.
On a simple go route he burst off the line, hesitated at 10 yards with a head fake and an inside look, and then he was gone. Waaayyyy gone. As in 5 yards of separation between he and the Cornerback gone. This is the breathtaking speed that won Walker a Gold Medal in the Triple Jump at the Texas State Championships Track Meet only a few months ago. Wow. Rice hasn't seen speed like this at the position in who knows how long.
His counterpart, and fellow freshman Lovett Gibson also had his moment of "arrival" to Rice Football. It wasn't in a one-on-one situation, it came during a skeleton drill with the Quarterbacks. But it was equally impressive.
On a deep fade route, Gibson made his cut at the hash and headed to the delivery point. But as he did, the ball from the Quarterback seemed to sail and looked badly overthrown. Gibson didn't see it that way - out of nowhere and with a tremendous leap Lovett soared skyward, plucked the ball out the air with one of his huge hands, and with a combination of body control and wherewithal came down in bounds and with the one-handed catch. "Wow!".
This is exactly what the Rice Offense has been missing. And sure it's only a couple plays and these guys have a long way to go before they'll become starters - but these two plays put a lot of hope and enthusiasm into the guys wearing the whistles.
The team hasn't had a lethal aerial attack since Chase and Co. were here. Evident in last season's reliance on running the football. Granted the Owls ran the ball because they have great Running Backs - but being able to back defenders off the line while respecting its wideouts would certainly open both aspects of the offense up.
We'll see what happens for these two sensational freshmen - for now this much is true, they're turning lots of heads...
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