Cinco Ranch junior offensive lineman Ethan Onianwa recently verbally committed to Rice. It was somewhat of a surprise, considering Onianwa only has 10 games of varsity football under his belt and his recruiting process was stunted by restrictions due to the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19.
“The current coronavirus outbreak affected my recruiting experience a lot,” Onianwa said. “Due to the current epidemic, I wasn’t able to visit colleges and have coaches come to our spring practices. It most definitely made it harder to learn about programs from the players and coaches there.”
COVID-19 prevented college coaches from going on the road to recruit and closed campuses, which disallowed visits by recruits. It also canceled spring football, a time of the year when college coaches can visit high school campuses to watch practices and talk to high school coaches about players.
Still, Onianwa was able to secure his future in a sport he only started taking seriously in middle school, in large part because he’s a tantalizing physical prospect. Onianwa stands 6-foot-5 and 305 pounds. He’s also only 16 years old.
More nerve-wracking than any pressure shot was the recruiting obstacles a global pandemic presented to Tompkins senior golfer Zach Asaro this spring.
When the high school golf season was postponed in mid-March and then eventually canceled less than a month later, it stunted an impressive season for Asaro, an all-district performer. He was hoping to strut his swing at the district and, hopefully, regional and state meets, searching for a scholarship offer from a bigger school after receiving interest from NAIA and NCAA Division III programs.
Those meets never took place. But Asaro, through persistent mobile and virtual contact with University of New Orleans men’s golf coach Jeff Lorio and leaning upon the faith and trust of sights and a program unseen, earned that shot at a better school, committing May 1 to play for the Privateers, a NCAA Division I program in the Southland Conference.
Long after a distinguished tenure with the Houston Oilers, the late Ed Biles spent the final year of his remarkable coaching career as a volunteer for an indoor arena football team in Cypress.
Biles died April 5 following a battle with leukemia. He was 88 years old. Biles coached 14 years in the NFL, beginning as an assistant with the New Orleans Saints in 1969 and finishing as head coach of the Oilers from 1981-1983 after serving as Houston’s defensive backs coach and defensive coordinator under Bum Phillips from 1974-1980.
Biles is fondly remembered most for those beloved “Luv Ya Blue” days.
But 14 years after wrapping up his NFL coaching career, Biles was back in football in 2007 as a volunteer assistant/quality control coach for the AF2’s Texas Copperheads, who practiced and played their home games at Cypress Fairbanks ISD’s Berry Center. The af2 was the minor league for the Arena Football League.
For 29 consecutive days in 2005, Brian Burg wrote letters to then-Texas Tech men’s basketball coach Bob Knight and Knight’s then-assistant coach Chris Beard.
Burg, fresh off a graduate assistant coaching gig at NCAA Division III Lake Erie College, knew he wanted to be a basketball coach. But he needed an opportunity.
Burg admired Beard for the passion and communication skills he saw first-hand when Beard coached summer camps Burg attended as a child. So, Burg tried his luck. Day after day produced letter after letter. Finally, after Knight got perturbed with Burg’s persistence, Burg received an exasperated call from Beard, who acknowledged Burg’s desire, told him to stop writing Knight, and eventually set Burg up with a job for a junior college program.
Since then, it’s been a grind for the Katy native Burg in climbing the ladder of a profession that’s not for the meek. From Garden City Community College to Western Texas College to Middle Tennessee State to Campbell to North Carolina Central to Little Rock. Then, in 2016, landing at Texas Tech under Beard, enjoying a mesmerizing Final Four run to the championship game in 2019, and then, now, to the culmination of it all in Statesboro, Georgia.