Meet the five impact players coming to the Cougars
The Cougars just had arguably their best season last year, but key players from that team have either graduated or left for the NFL.
Five new transfers, however, show the ability to prolong the University of Houston football’s success streak.
The Cougars’ top-three rushers (who aren’t named Greg Ward Jr.) are no longer with the team, leaving a wide-open race for a feature running back. Duke Catalon will finally begin his collegiate career after sitting out last year due to NCAA transfer rules.
Despite having never played a down in college, Catalon’s potential landed him on Athlon Sports magazine’s list of Top 100 Impact Transfers at fifth place. The former University of Texas Longhorn is expected to earn the starting position and lighten the rushing load for Ward Jr.
Ed Oliver was the marquee player in the Cougars’ recruiting class this year. He is the only five-star recruit among the class and was the highest-rated defensive tackle in Texas.
Oliver joins a defensive line that was recently ranked among the top 10 in the nation and will be a formidable figure in the trenches. While he may not get the starting nod due to B.J. Singleton, expect to see Oliver on many downs.
Although Ward Jr. gets most of the credit—rightfully so—for UH’s up-tempo offense, a lot of what he does would not be possible without a stout offensive line.
Two of the Cougars best offensive linemen, Alex Cooper and Carter Wall, have graduated. UH has fortunately recruited offensive tackle Na’Ty Rodgers, who was ranked the No. 7 overall junior college player from Iowa Western Community College.
Rodgers will use his 6-foot-5, 255-pound frame to bully opposing defenses. Rodgers comes to the Cougars with plenty of experience and should fill a major void in the tackle position.
J.J. Dallas joins the Cougars as a transfer from Blinn College, where he played for one year and collected two interceptions plus 17 tackles. ESPN said Dallas was the ninth-best junior college cornerback.
Dallas will make the move to safety at UH, where both starting spots are vacant due to Adrian McDonald and Trevon Stewart leaving. In the annual red-and-white game, Dallas led all UH defensive players with 11 total tackles and one sack.
Like Catalon, Ra’Shaad Samples also sat out during the 2015 season due to NCAA transfer rules after only playing in six games for Oklahoma State in 2014.
Demarcus Ayers, the Cougars’ leading receiver, left the team a year early to pursue the NFL. While receivers Chance Allen and Steven Dunbar are expected to step up, look for Samples to become a top target in the passing game. Although Samples isn’t as big as Allen or Dunbar, he has the ideal size for a slot receiver and could disrupt defenses on the inside.