Though Rice does not have one player from California, the Owls coaching staff has a tie to the central San Joaquin Valley.
Rice tight ends coach David Sloan starred at Sierra High then Fresno City from 1990-91 before developing into a three-time NFL Pro Bowl tight end. The 6-foot-7 Sloan actually started off playing basketball for the Rams then spent one season on Fresno City’s football team before earning a scholarship to New Mexico.
Selected in the third round by the Detroit Lions in the 1995 draft, Sloan played nine years in the NFL then got into coaching.
Sloan, 41, is in his fifth season at Rice and third as an assistant. He has coached two NFL draft picks and a third player who signed as an NFL free agent in 2012. This season, Owls starting tight end Lake Turner has 10 catches for 122 yards and one touchdown.
Never miss a local story.
“David brings a lot of fresh ideas and our players really respond to because of what he’s done for himself,” said Rice coach David Bailiff, who was an assistant at New Mexico when Sloan played there. “He gets a lot of respect. When he works into a room, especially when we’re recruiting a tight end, he gets their attention.”