Lockhart excelling academically and athletically at Rice University

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Rice football players
October 02, 2021: During a game between the Rice Owls and the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles at Rice Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Mandatory Credit: Maria Lysaker | Rice Athletics)

Strong Academic Foundation at CHISD

(CEDAR HILL, TEXAS) Kirk Lockhart said the Advanced Placement classes he completed at Cedar Hill prepared him for academics at Rice University in Houston, one of the premier academic universities in the United States.

Lockhart, 20, graduated in the Top 10 percent of the Cedar Hill High School Class of 2019 and enjoys the academic and athletic challenges at Rice. He was named to the Conference USA Commissioner’s Honor Roll the last two years.

“Schooling at Rice is very focused on the student,” Lockhart said. “The professor knows your name, who you are and what you do at Rice.”

Lockhart is a Sport Management Major, with a minor in Business. His plans are to manage an athletic facility or to work in facility management for a sports franchise or university athletic department. He has interned with Rice Athletics, working at games when the Owls won Conference USA in Women’s Soccer and working at games for other Rice sports.

Lifelong Longhorn

As a lifelong Longhorn, Lockhart started Kindergarten at Waterford Oaks Elementary in 2006 – just months before Cedar Hill won its first Football Championship.

Nearly a decade later, he was a Bessie Coleman Middle School scholar when the Longhorns repeated as State Champions in 2013 and 2014.

“I went to all of those games when I was in middle school,” Lockhart said. “Playing football for Cedar Hill was a dream when I was a kid.”

Lockhart, who plays Safety, won a district championship as a senior in 2018. He was also part of Student Council, the Computer Club, Track & Field and Powerlifting at CHHS.

As a sophomore at Cedar Hill, he played on the JV Team and started his junior year on JV – an unlikely path for a Division I Football Player.

Carlos Lynn arrived at Cedar Hill in 2017, and Lockhart worked hard to find his way on to the varsity roster. Lockhart also learned a lot from former CHHS defensive coordinator DeMarcus Harris, who was hired as Mesquite High’s head coach last spring.

“Lockhart’s a hard worker and just found his way through at Cedar Hill,” Cedar Hill head football coach Carlos Lynn said. “He is a good testament of hard work. He was ready to go every time we played.”

The Reason Behind Choosing Rice

Coming from an established high school football program, Lockhart wanted to be part of building something special when he chose a college football program.

“If you go to a large school, you’re not changing any culture,” Lockhart said. “I’ve always wanted to be a guy that changes the culture. I don’t care who else would have offered me. I definitely still would have gone to Rice.”

Fifty-nine years ago, President John F. Kennedy spoke at Rice Stadium – the venue where the Owls still play their home games – and gave a famous speech about efforts to reach space. In that speech, Kennedy spoke about doing challenging things, “Why does Rice play Texas…because it’s hard, not because it’s easy.”

Rice has made a total of 12 bowl games, between 1937 and 2014. Lockhart turns 21 years old on November 28, and the Owls’ 13th bowl appearance would be a great birthday present.

The Owls (2-3) must win six games to qualify for a bowl, and Lockhart clinched the program’s second victory with a 24-19 over Southern Miss on October 2, recording his first collegiate interception late in the fourth quarter.

“Viper”

Lockhart was an unlikely hero in the game. He wasn’t feeling well (but tested negative for COVID-19) and was only expected to go into the game if fellow Safeties were injured. The Owls called upon Lockhart, who recorded two tackles and the interception in the victory.

“It’s always exciting to get a walk off the field pick – that played a big role in finishing the game,” said Lockhart, who at Rice often plays a position called “Viper”, which is a hybrid of Safety and Linebacker.

Lockhart played primarily as a true freshman in 2019, accumulating 12 tackles for the Owls, who finished 3-9 but won their final three games of the season.

Eligible Through 2023

Last season, Rice finished 2-3, playing just five of its 12 games on the schedule due to COVID-19 related cancellations. Lockhart played in four games, finishing tied for second on the team in tackles with 28. He had seven tackles in a 20-0 victory over then-#15 and undefeated Marshall last December.

Because he only appeared in four games, Lockhart didn’t use a year of eligibility last season, so he’ll be eligible through the 2023 football season.

This season, Lockhart and the Owls visited the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas and led 17-7 in the second half, before the Razorbacks – currently ranked 17th in the nation – rattled off 31 unanswered points.

“It’s a blessing to play for head coach Mike Bloomgren, because he won’t say we can’t beat Arkansas or Texas because we can,” Lockhart said. “I really love my defensive coordinator, Brian Smith, because he develops great schemes every game. It’s a blessing to be able to go out there and play football.”

Lockhart recorded his first collegiate sack in a loss to crosstown rival, the University of Houston, in the Bayou Bucket Rivalry Game and had two tackles in a loss to Texas in Austin.

Living In Space City

At 5 p.m. Friday, Lockhart and the Owls will visit undefeated UT San Antonio, led by Lockhart’s former Cedar Hill teammate, junior Zakhari Franklin, who has 37 receptions for 447 yards and four touchdowns this season.

“Zakhari is the sole reason they changed the way they played,” Lockhart said. “He had such a breakout game when we played UTSA my freshman year.”

Lockhart says adjusting to the humidity in Houston has been a challenge, but he’s enjoying living in Space City. His twin sister attends Texas Southern University, located just three miles away.

The Owls defeated TSU, 48-34, on Celebrate Houston! Day.

Lockhart has maintained his allegiance to the Dallas Cowboys over the Houston Texans, but he conceded that he might root for the Houston Astros or Houston Dynamo.

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