August 13, 2009
2009 Position Spotlight: Safeties
The Rice Owl Defense hopes to take another step forward in 2009. In 2007, the Owls gave up 312 passing yards a game - finishing last in the country in that statistic. In 2008 the Owls moved up to 110th statistically, perhaps not impressive at first blush, but considering they gave up 43 fewer yards per game (269) - the Owls made progress.
The key to a successful 4-2-5 Defense is arguably an active group of Safeties. To say the starting trio of Andrew Sendejo, Travis Bradshaw, and [db] Chris Jones are active is severely understating their importance to the Owl Defense. They are arguably the backbone. And more still, are perhaps the strongest position group of any on the team.
A healthy season for the 3 could mean Rice will take a bigger step in 2009 towards becoming a sound Defensive football team.
Returning Players: Andrew Sendejo, Chris Jones, Travis Bradshaw, Willie Garley, Max Anyiam, Xavier Webb, David Falgout, Randy Kitchens
Newcomers: Turner Petersen, Andre Brackens, Broderick Jackson, Tanner Leland
Top Returning Tacklers Sendejo (94), Bradshaw (89), Jones (59)
Interceptions Sendejo (3), Jones (1)
~ Free Safety - Sendejo, Webb, Petersen, Brackens
~ Strong Safety - Jones, Garley, Anyiam, Jackson
~ Kat Safety - Bradshaw, Kitchens, Falgout, Leland
- Andrew Sendejo is arguably the heart and soul of the team. Known simply as "Sendejo" by most, he is set to become a 4 year starter for the Owls. His toughness and reckless style have earned him a reputation as a feared player in C-USA. He is a preseason 2nd team All C-USA selection; but honestly is worthy of 1st team consideration.
- Travis Bradshaw is probably the hardest hitter on the team. The sophomore from Cy-Fair is a former walk-on that quickly earned a scholarship with his speed and sure tackling. Good friend and high school teammate with Michigan transfer Sam McGuffie.
- Sophomore Randy Kitchens returns to action this year after missing all of 2008 while recovering from hip surgery. Kitchens saw extensive action in 2007 as a true freshman and brings intimidating size (6-3 215) to the Kat position.
- All of Rice's incoming freshman Safeties played other positions in high school - Turner Petersen (QB), Broderick Jackson (RB), Andre Brackens (RB, CB), Tanner Leland (CB).
- Speaking of Leland, he continues a strong tradition of excellent walk-on prospects at the position. Travis Bradshaw (2007), and David Falgout (2008) precede Leland as starter quality players who have walked-on at Rice. At 6-2 210 pounds, and with 4.5 speed, Leland is a likely future starter for Rice.
- Andrew Sendejo has muscled up to 225 pounds for his senior campaign. Despite his NFL ready size, he is also a prime candidate to return punts in 2009.
- Though Rice Safeties Coach Craig Naivar is considered an excellent recruiter - 10 of the 12 players listed as Safeties on the roster were recruited by other coaches.
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