Har­vey keep­ing Rice and Hous­ton foot­ball teams off cam­pus

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - SPORTS - By Stephen Hawkins AP Sports Writer Jim Ver­tuno in Austin, Texas, con­trib­uted to this re­port.

Josh Rah­man and the Rice foot­ball team were about 8,500 miles from their Hous­ton cam­pus, in a time zone 15 hours ahead, when they started to hear about a trop­i­cal storm in the Gulf of Mex­ico.

At first, they didn’t think much about the sys­tem that would be­come Hur­ri­cane Har­vey.

“It es­ca­lated very quickly,” Rah­man said. “Then we learned this thing is dif­fer­ent.”

And now, even while back in Texas after play­ing their season opener in Aus­tralia, the Owls still feel a long, long way from home.

With the city of Hous­ton over­whelmed by flood­ing from the cat­a­strophic storm that is the heav­i­est trop­i­cal down­pour in U.S. his­tory, Rice’s 101 play­ers are now based at a down­town Fort Worth ho­tel. They were go­ing to TCU’s cam­pus Wed­nes­day for some run­ning, stretch­ing and weightlift­ing — their first foot­ball ac­tiv­ity since get­ting back from Syd­ney, where they lost to 14thranked Stan­ford on Sun­day af­ter­noon, or late Satur­day night Texas time.

“We all want to be back in Hous­ton. We just can’t get there,” said Rice coach David Bailiff, whose team doesn’t play again un­til Sept. 9 at UTEP.

Bailiff is con­stantly in com­mu­ni­ca­tion with his wife stuck at their home near a levee after flood­wa­ters cut off ac­cess to get out of the neigh­bor­hood. Bailiff said the im­me­di­ate fam­ily mem­bers for all his play­ers and coaches are safe, though many did evac­u­ate their homes.

“We have high anx­i­ety and worry, but I also have a job to do tak­ing care of these young men here,” Bailiff said. “I know my wife’s safe up­stairs in the house. She’s dry . ... She’s re­ally han­dled it pretty dang good.”

While the Owls will work out at TCU, about a fourhour drive from their cam­pus, the Hous­ton Cougars have been in Austin since Fri­day, when they evac­u­ated on the same day Har­vey made land­fall near Rock­port, north­east of Cor­pus Christi, as a Cat­e­gory 4 hur­ri­cane.

The Cougars had been pre­par­ing at the Univer­sity of Texas for their sched­uled season opener Satur­day at Texas-San An­to­nio, which they in­stead de­cided to post­pone.

“We felt like it wasn’t the right thing to do in terms of where our city is,” firstyear Hous­ton head coach Ma­jor Ap­ple­white said. “We have to fo­cus on our fam­i­lies right now and get back some sense of nor­malcy.”

Like the Rice team that ar­rived Mon­day in Fort Worth, the Cougars don’t know how long they will re­main away from the na­tion’s fourth-largest city. Rice left Hous­ton for Aus­tralia on Aug. 20.

“This is big­ger than foot­ball,” Cougars run­ning back Dil­lon Bir­den said. “We’re ready to get back to our city and help our city.”

At least eight Rice play­ers know their apart­ments or houses near cam­pus have flooded, along with nu­mer­ous ve­hi­cles, Bailiff said. Many of the play­ers are un­sure and worry they will also have sig­nif­i­cant wa­ter dam­age.

Bailiff said that when the Owls get back to Hous­ton, they will “at­tack those apart­ments first as a team, and get those apart­ments cleaned out.”

Rah­man, a se­nior de­fen­sive end for Rice, said it was stress­ful know­ing his par­ents had de­cided to re­main in their Su­gar Land home near the Bra­zos River de­spite a manda­tory evac­u­a­tion be­cause of flood­ing. He said he is fre­quently talk­ing with them, and that no wa­ter had got­ten into their home as of late Tues­day.

“First, be­cause it was jet lag, I woke up at 1 a.m. (Tues­day). Wide awake. The first thing I did was call my mom,” he said. “They said it’s a little scary . ... I think they’re do­ing well. They’re deal­ing with it the best pos­si­ble way they can. Every­one here, the en­tire time, is deal­ing with it the best pos­si­ble way they can.”

Rice line­backer Em­manuel Eller­bee, whose par­ents were on the trip to Aus­tralia, re­mem­bers the men­tal toll his mother, who is from Louisiana, ex­pe­ri­enced when she had fam­ily mem­bers in New Or­leans in the af­ter­math of Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina in 2005. Now he knows how she felt, watch­ing from afar on tele­vi­sion and so­cial me­dia what his fam­ily and friends are deal­ing with in Hous­ton.

“Hous­ton’s a re­ally big part of me,” Eller­bee said. “You want to be some­where where you can help and make a dif­fer­ence and con­trib­ute.”

RICK RYCROFT — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

In this Aug. 22, 2017, file photo, Rice NCAA col­lege foot­ball play­ers Nashon Ellerbe, left, holds an East­ern Gray kan­ga­roo joey named Tabby as team­mate Jack Fox takes a pic­ture, in Syd­ney, Aus­tralia. The Rice foot­ball team was about 8,500 miles from their Hous­ton cam­pus, in a time zone 15 hours ahead, when they started to hear about a trop­i­cal storm in the Gulf of Mex­ico.

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