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Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Football

Herman’s fast start carries over into recruiting


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Head coach Tom Herman has taken a program that was coming off of a pair of 8-5 seasons and guided them to a 13-1 overall season, and he’s continuing that success in recruiting the city of Houston. | Justin Tijerina/The Cougar

Head coach Tom Herman stepped into the position at Houston in 2015 and quickly impressed, with a 13-1 record, a conference title, a bowl victory over a top 10 opponent and multiple accolades in his first year at the helm.

While the near-perfect season is impressive, one good season of football doesn’t make a legacy for the first-year head coach.

From the beginning, Herman said that the recruitment of local talent would be a priority for the coaching staff and a key to the future of the program.

So far, the Cougars’ 2016 recruiting class looks to be one of the best in UH history.

The efforts of Herman and his staff have turned the school’s recruiting class, ranked 91st a year ago,  into the 25th best class in the country, in the first recruiting cycle, according to ESPN.

There has been a buzz around the program since Herman signed with UH, helping lure some of the best talent Houston has to offer.

The class is highlighted by the commitment of five-star defensive tackle Ed Oliver out of Westfield High School. Oliver is an explosive, high-motor athlete with a knack for disruption, as demonstrated by his 84 tackles, 24 for a loss and seven sacks in 2015.

Fresh off an MVP performance at this year’s Under Armour All-American Game, the highly-sought Oliver has decided to stay home to play his college ball, opening the gate for several other talented players to buy into the H-Town Takeover as well.

At the top of the class is a pair of four-star receivers in Tyrie Cleveland, also from Westfield, and Courtney Lark from Bellaire. At 6 foot 3 inches and 6 feet and 1 inch respectively, the duo brings size and all-around skill to the position that should boost the Cougar passing attack.

Joining them on offense is another Houston-area star in Manvel High School’s D’Eriq King. After proving himself a potent dual-threat at quarterback for the high-flying Maverick offense, this four-star athlete will look to find a role at the next level.

While he may not play quarterback for the Cougars, King brings top-flight athleticism and speed to the field, allowing him to contribute as a returner, receiver or defensive back.

The offensive line will also receive an injection of talent from this class, with the signing of former University of South Carolina and junior-college standout Na’Ty Rodgers.

A natural left tackle with all of the length, athleticism and quickness necessary, Rodgers will be an ideal fit in both pass protection and run blocking for the Cougars.

Rounding out the class are a slew of three and two-star players with potential to contribute impact, including safety Terrell Williams from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, safety Collin Wilder from Katy High School, running back Mulbah Car from Reagan High School and quarterback Bowman Sells from Lovejoy High School.

The icing on the cake for this impressive haul of talent is the transfer of quarterback Kyle Allen from Texas A&M University.

Widely considered the No. 1 QB in the nation in 2014, Allen could be the future of quarterbacks for the Cougars.

Allen led the Aggies to a 5-0 start before struggling midseason and losing the starting job to freshman Kyle Murray in 2015. The sophomore finished the season with 2,210 yards and 17 touchdowns against seven interceptions.

Because of NCAA transfer rules, Allen will sit out for 2016, but will return to the field with two years of eligibility left starting in 2017.

Achievements on the field serve in recruiting better talent, helping with on-field production in a cycle that has led to long-term success for the best programs in the country.

With the fast start the Cougars had under Herman, they have a chance to build a foundation that could allow UH to eventually overtake the big dogs on the block like the University of Texas, Texas Christian University and Baylor University.

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