The rising senior committed to Rice University
Braden River High quarterback Shawqi Itraish is smart.
That much is clear.
Itraish, who will be a senior next season, said he has offers to play for every Ivy League school except Princeton. He holds a 4.1 weighted GPA while taking a mix of honors, advanced placement and college-level courses.
The importance of doing well in school, Itraish said, extends far beyond the classroom. It is about responsibility and showing how you maximize your potential, whatever your field may be. Itraish said this is something his family has instilled in him since birth.
He also is a fierce competitor, and while an Ivy League education would be nice, he is thinking bigger in terms of football. That is why, he said, he is going to Rice University.
Rice head coach Mike Bloomgren and offensive coordinator Jerry Mack they are only interested in players whose dream is to play in the NFL.
"My education is important to me," he said. "I wasn't going to commit to a school without good academics. But I also love football. I'm going to go as far in football as the sport will take me."
In Rice, Itraish said, he found a school that checked both of qualifications in terms of academics and football. On the football field, Itraish said Rice's schedule will give him the chance to play against top competition.
In 2021, which will be Itraish's freshman year, Rice has scheduled non-conference opponents Texas, Arkansas and Houston. The Owls went 3-8 in 2019, their first year under Bloomgren, when started eight freshmen. The program is rebuilding with underclassmen and even though Rice does not have a long history of success, Itraish said Bloomgren has the ability to change that.
Itraish did not get a chance to visit with coaches in person before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, but he did take a tour of the campus and the surrounding Houston area and loved it. He loves everything about Rice, actually. That's why he has given a verbal committment now, he said. He said Rice is his next home, so why wait?
He said now he can turn his attention to his senior season at Braden River since the recruitment process is over for him. Itraish is hopeful, with the pandemic still looming, there will be a season.
"We are excited to play again," Itraish said of the Pirates. "We had (an inexperienced) team last year. We all have a year of experience now and we improved a lot at the end of last year. I personally felt more comfortable out there. At the beginning of the year, I had some nerves. Now I feel like more of a leader. I can comfortably direct people on what to do. I think that helps keep everyone else calm as well."
Itraish said he has been using the offseason to work on his ability to read defenses. He said it is vital for quarterbacks to know defenses as well as they do offenses. That's how you exploit weak spots, he said.
Easier said than done, but as we know, Itraish is smart. It's just another skill in his toolbox.