If last night's energy level at the 3rd annual Night of the Iron Owl was any indication of things to come when the Owls start spring football in two weeks, we'll be in for some terrific practices. And perhaps a much better team on the field this fall.
Dozens of recruits and hundreds of fans packed the Fox Gym on campus last night and were treated to several outstanding performances by current Rice Football players.
The evening's highlight was an amazing school record power clean lift of 421 pounds by senior Defensive lineman Scott Solomon. The successful lift nearly brought down the house as teammates and coaches mobbed Solomon afterwards. That scene was played out several times before though and with other successful lifts, underscoring a genuine camraderie shared by the Owl Football team on display throughout the evening.
Recruits and their parents took note of the closeness of the team.
Alief Taylor Quarterback Jordan Are', along with teammates Emmanuel Omoegbele and Israel Iheanacho all had a great time at the event and told us they can't wait to come back to Rice Spring Practice.
"You can tell this team really works hard together and has a special bond. They really support each other and that's important for a team," said Are' who was also accompanied by his father to the event.
Cy-Creek Quarterback Chuckie Keeton and his father also attended. Mr. Keeton was impressed with the eye-popping strength performances on display.
"It's very obvious Rice has a great Strength Program. I've known Pierre Beasley since he was just a kid and he's always been a skinny kid. What he's accomplished here at Rice in the weight room is amazing!"
A special guest that knows a thing or two about conditioning himself was also on hand at the event. Current Texans' Tight End James Casey shared his insight into how important the Rice Strength and Conditioning Program had been in launching his NFL career.
"The Strength Program at Rice is really the great equalizer. It not allows Rice to compete with teams that may have more recruiting advantages but it was also critical to my personal success. The guys do a great job here."
Other highlights of last night's supercharged performance included impressive lifts by a handful of newcomers, as well as seasoned veterans.
Alex Lowry squatted 600 pounds to pace that event. Senior Defensive End Cheta Ozougwu wasn't far behind with a squat of 580 pounds. Tyler Smith made a strong personal statement about his personal character and determination by squatting 570 pounds. Smith weighs only 185 pounds, impressive enough; but the bigger feat is his how much heart he's shown in fighting back to such an amazing show of strength after a devastating knee injury. Doctors weren't sure Smith would ever play again at the time.
In the bench press event, Sam McGuffie, Xavier Webb, and Jake Hicks put on a "gun" show. McGuffie benched 375 pounds while Webb repped 385 pounds. Hicks was the heavyweight with a top mark of 425 pounds on the night.
Joining Solomon in the power clean was impressive true freshman Cody Bauer. A candidate to start this fall at Left Defensive End, the Pottsboro native power cleaned 363 pounds. Junior Tight End/Receiver Brent Hotard matched Bauer at the same weight, but weighs 25 pounds less.
Seniors Pierre Beasley and Chris Jones were just as impressive in their efforts. With long arms and more slightly built than the rest, the duo put up a pair of personal bests. Jones weighed 175 pounds upon his arrival at Rice - last night at 203 he cleaned 321 pounds, while Beasley hoisted 296 pounds. His performance was an increase in the lift of over 150 pounds since arriving at Rice.
Each player that lifted on Monday night represented a success story for Rice Football, written not with words but with hours of sweat and determination. And that story is growing with each off-season into perhaps a classic novel. Currently 34 Rice Football players can power clean at least 300 pounds.
Overall the Night of the Iron Owl was a smashing success, and keeps getting better each year. Next year perhaps more records will fall, plans were already being discussed for Iron Owl 2011 as the lights went out last night...
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