Ricebird named top junior football player in the country

El Campo’s Rueben Owens II

El Campo Rueben Owens II wasn’t the top football player in Texas, but he is the best junior in the entire nation, according to Maxpreps.com.

Owens was named the website’s National Junior Of The Year, Wednesday afternoon.

“(I’m) feeling so humbled and blessed to be mentioned in the same breath as some of the best athletes I’ve seen coming up,” Owens said on his social media. “Without my teammates, coaches and people who helped me along the way, I wouldn’t be where I am today and for that I am thankful. I’m not satisfied.”

Maxpreps is a website that monitors high school sports and keeps track of records and stats throughout the country.

Owens before the 2021 season was named to the website’s preseason All-American first-team.

The El Campo junior went on to rush for 2,989 yards during the 2021 season. Owens rushed for more than 12 yards a carry. In total, the Ricebird junior had 3,310 yards, between rushing, passing and receiving.

“Rueben’s a great talent, he’s the total package,” El Campo head coach Chad Worrell said. “He has everything. He has the size, the height, the speed, the explosiveness, the speed, the vision and he works hard. He’s a humble young man and he works his tail off. God gave him that talent, but he’s using it and taking full advantage of what he was given. I know his parents have both raised him to be humble and help others and try to be a leader. He’s exceeded even what I thought when I first got here.”

Since establishing the award in 2009, Owens is only the third running back to receive the honor, following Aldeo’s Johnathan Gray in 2009 and Zach Evans of North Shore in 2018. Owens is also the fifth player from Texas.

Owens was in the running for the Mr. Texas Football award as one of three juniors out of 10 finalists. A senior would end up winning the award, which was voted on by fans.

The Ricebird junior reopened his recruiting last year and currently has 37 offers, including to both Alabama and Georgia, who are playing for the national championship.

Despite being recognized as the best junior football player in the country, there is still another level for Owens to hit, Worrell said.

“There is still a lot left and room for improvement and he knows that,” Worrell said. “We’re going to try this offseason to continue to get him faster and stronger and put on a few pounds of muscle.”

While the honor is for Owens, it’s something the Ricebirds team as a whole takes pride in.

“Rueben would be the first to tell it’s a team award. The lineman cherishes that (along with) the backs, the receivers, the quarterback and everyone that had a part of him getting those yards, it’s an award we all take ownership in as his teammates.”

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