Rice honors former Owl Matt Sign of NFF

Matt Sign, FWAA Board member from the National Football Foundation where he is the chief operating officer, was honored this past week at the Rice Spring Game. He is a former standout Rice football player.

For Immediate Release

Chuck Pool



Cobb and Sign Selected as 2017 Honor Jerseys

Two mainstays of the current Rice football team will take to the field for the annual Blue-Gray spring game in new numbers as they honor a pair of standout teammates from the past as part of the Rice Owls Honor Jersey program.

Running back Samuel Stewart will switch to 45 this year to honor 1991 Doak Walker Award winner Trevor Cobb, while defensive tackle Preston Gordon wear 99 to honor Cobb’s teammate and two-time All –SWC noseguard Matt Sign.   

Cobb became the first Owl to win one of college football’s major individual awards when he received the 1991 Doak Walker Award as the nation’s top running back.  Cobb was a consensus All-American in 1991 and went on to be named the 1992 Southwest Conference Offensive Player of the Year.  He completed his  career ranked second on the SWC rushing list with 4,948 yards, which ranked eighth on the NCAA career list at that time and now ranks 22nd in NCAA history.

He became the first Owl to rush for over 1,000 yards in three seasons and holds the top three season totals in school history, capped by his 1,692 yards in 1991 during his run to the Doak Walker Award.  In addition to his yardage total, Cobb holds Rice season and career marks for rushing attempts (306/1,091), and all-purpose yards (6,512) in addition to the career mark for rushing touchdowns (38).

Despite his 5-10, 220 pound frame, Sign was a dominant defensive force during his career at Rice.  He led Rice linemen in tackles in each of his four seasons and he ranks fifth on the Rice career chart with 36 tackles for loss and sixth with 14 sacks. He won the Lipscomb Award in 1989 as the Outstanding Freshman and shared the first “Bloody Joe” Davis Award in 1991.

After starting his professional career with Florida Citrus Sports (FCS) which produced the Champs Sports Bowl and the Gridiron Classic College All-Star Game, Sign was named the Chief Operating Officer of the National Football Foundation in 2005.

The Honor Jersey program began in 2012, when Rice head coach David Bailiff first honored past notable Rice football players by having current member of the team who play the same position change numbers.  King Hill and O.J. Brigance were honored the first year.  In 2013, the Owls honored the first three African-American players at Rice (Rodrigo Barnes, Stahle Vincent and Mike Tyler) along with Bucky Allshouse, who was their recruiting host.   In 2014, Larry Izzo, N.D. Kalu and Richard Chapman were honored while in 2015; Jeff Rose and Dr. Leland Winston saw players change to their numbers. Last year, Ray Alborn, Donald Bowers and David Houser were honored.

Kickoff for the annual game to wrap up spring football drills is set for 8:00 p.m. Friday at Rice Stadium.

Covington’s jersey switch makes him No. 1

Spotlight on the Outland Trophy

By Steve Richardson

FWAA Executive Director

Rice’s Outland Trophy candidate Christian Covington will debut with his No. 1 jersey against Notre Dame on Saturday in South Bend before a national television audience on NBC.  And the defending Conference USA champion Owls will try and break into the win column for the first time in their fifth try against the Fighting Irish.

“We are optimistic,” said Covington, who expects to have nine friends and family in the crowd at Notre Dame Stadium. “We are very anxious to get the football season started. This whole team is looking forward to Friday morning and flying out. It is going to be an awesome game, an awesome experience. I can’t wait to step on that field.”

The Outland Trophy

The Outland Trophy

Covington, a  6-foot-3, 305-pound junior defensive tackle, has turned in his  No. 56 jersey as part of Rice’s Honors Jersey program, in exchange for numero uno. He will be honoring N.D. Kalu, an end who wore No. 1 for Rice from 1993-96, earned all-conference honors and was the school’s single-season and career holder for sacks at the completion of his career.

Kalu later played 11 seasons in the National Football League  (for three different teams), finishing with the Houston Texans in 2008.

“It means a lot to honor someone of Rice’s past, to represent a player who had an amazing career at Rice, had a terrific NFL career,” Covington said. “It means so much because he means so much to this Rice Owls’ football program and Houston area, and to do it for a guy who was my mentor my freshman year for our Leadership Program available to the student-athletes here.”

A native of Vancouver, British Columbia, Covington knows all about sacks and tackles for losses. During his first two seasons with the Owls he registered nine sacks for 73 yards in losses and 19.5 tackles for 100 yards in losses overall. In 2013, he became the Owl’s first defensive tackle to earn All-Conference honors as a sophomore since the return of two-platoon football in 1965.