It seems one by one, talented players keep coming back home to play football in Texas. First last fall was Churchill's Nick Fanuzzi from Alabama. Then Cy-Fair's Sam McGuffie from Michigan in the spring. Last was Cedar Park's Justin Allen from Idaho, also a spring enrollee.
The latest is quarterback Taylor Cook, who by coincidence (or by destiny) went to a high school named Altair Rice Consolidated. Either way, Cook left the sands of Miami's South Beach this week for the Oak trees of South Main, and by attending classes at 9 a.m. officially became a Rice Owl.
Despite performing very well in spring practice for the Hurricanes, the redshirt freshman Cook was still in a heated battle for the No. 2 spot behind sophomore starter Jacory Harris as early as Monday of this week. Ultimately, Cook opted for an education, and an opportunity, closer to home. Sophomore QB Cannon Smith also left the Hurricane program this week. Smith's father is FedEx founder and CEO Fred Smith.
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Cook spoke about his decision earlier in the week to the Miami Herald.
"I had to make a career choice," said Cook. "Some things happen. I have all the respect in the world for (Miami head) coach Shannon and (offensive coordinator Mark) Whipple, but I had to make a decision about my future and that's the choice I made. It's been a couple of weeks that I've been thinking about this."
The Texan's athleticism has the Rice campus buzzing. At 6-foot-7, 240 pounds, he can run the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds. On top of that he's reportedly thrown the ball 70 yards in the air at Miami practices. He is by all accounts a huge boon to the Rice program.
Cook is the son of rice farmer Robby Cook, who served 12 years as a member of the Texas House of Representatives.
Taylor was a quarterback and a second-team all-state punter at Altair Rice Consolidated High. He completed 103 of 214 passes for 1,598 yards and 19 touchdowns (with nine interceptions) as a senior.
He also rushed for 512 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Buy NCAA rule, Cook will be eligible to play for the Owls in 2010 and will have three years of eligibility remaining.
OwlSportsWatch.com spoke with Rice head coach David Bailiff today after Cook had officially attended classes at the university.
"We're just about as excited as you can get," Bailiff said. "He's a great, great athlete from a good family. We're thrilled he wanted to come here. He obviously makes our program better."
Owl Sports Watch is the premier site for Rice Owl athletics coverage.