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Monday, January 30, 2023

Football

Takeaways from UH football team’s early signees


UH football head coach Dana Holgorsen on the field pregame before his team battled against Tulane in the 2020 season opener. | Courtesy of UH athletics

UH football head coach Dana Holgorsen on the field pregame before his team battled against Tulane in the 2020 season opener. | Courtesy of UH athletics

The Houston football program announced the signing of nine student-athletes to its 2021 class during the NCAA’s early signing period that began on Wednesday.

Six of the nine hail from Texas, with five of them being from the greater Houston area. The remaining three come from Alabama, Georgia and Poland.

They also come from different levels of experience, with six being high school seniors and three transferring in to UH from junior college.

While each of the nine athletes that signed National Letter of Intent (NLI) to play at UH are different in many ways, they all had one thing in common: loyalty to the program from the moment they verbally committed.

“Guys that have been pretty loyal and ones that we’ve had our hooks into more than probably the remainder that will sign this class out,” head coach Dana Holgorsen told the media on Zoom.

Here are a few key takeaways from the Cougars 2021 signing class so far.

Versatility on the defense

One of the newest Cougars Holgorsen raved about was Mark Wilson, a three-star safety out of Clear Lake High School.

Wilson was the first member of his class to commit to UH and also the first one to sign his NLI.

“(Wilson) has been with us the entire time,” Holgorsen said. “Very loyal kid. I’m excited about him.”

What makes Wilson unique is that he took several trips to campus and got to meet with some of the coaching staff personally, Holgorsen told reporters via Zoom on Wednesday.

Something most recruits in this year’s class did not get an opportunity to do due to COVID-19 shutting everything down at the beginning of March.

Wilson is listed as a safety but is versatile and has played many different positions during his high school career.

The UH football team also signed Antonio Brooks out of Kilgore College.

The Brooks signing came as a surprise to many as the 5-foot-10-inch safety originally committed to Arizona, but Holgorsen said he and his staff were persistent in recruiting Brooks even after he verbally committed to the Wildcats.

A persistence that appears to have paid off in the end as Brooks flipped his commitment and signed his NLI with UH.

“Even with him committing (to Arizona), we didn’t give up,” Holgorsen said. “Just stayed with it. He’s one of our top defensive players on the board and he was one that we wanted to try to get in the end.”

Like Wilson, Holgorsen described Brooks as extremely versatile and dynamic, having the ability to play multiple different positions on the defense.

Hitting on quarterbacks

Another player Holgorsen talked about in detail was quarterback Maddox Kopp, a senior at St. Thomas High School.

Kopp made a name for himself and turned some heads while participating in The Elite 11, a quarterback competition between high school quarterbacks all across the country.

Holgorsen said Kopp has “tons of upside” and his signing really solidifies the Cougars’ quarterback room for the future as the UH football team has now signed the quarterback it has wanted for two straight seasons, signing Sofian Massoud last year and now Kopp this year.

“I’d say the quarterback room is in pretty good shape,” Holgorsen said. “I’m excited about where it’s at. It keeps us out of the transfer market. We don’t need to bring in a transfer because we’re hitting on high school guys.”

Running back is a big priority

One position that UH has yet to sign as part of its 2021 class is a running back, a position that has been a big focus for the Cougars.

“We’re hot after a running back,” Holgorsen said. “We’ve got our fingers crossed for one that I can’t talk about right now.”

Holgorsen said he is hopeful that the unnamed back who he has his eyes on will sign with UH by the end of the week.

Still more work to be done

Despite already signing nine athletes during the early signing period, UH still has 15 more spots to fill so that it can have a full class of 24 signees.

The early signing period continues through Friday before it closes until National Signing Day, which is scheduled on Feb. 3, 2021.

The program expects to have a couple more players sign before Friday and then can begin to narrow down the remaining spots based on the team’s biggest needs.

“We’ve got a pretty good idea of what spots that we need to fill based on the number of scholarships we have available (at specific spots),” Holgorsen said.

While Holgorsen is excited about the nine current signees, he understands that this is just the beginning and that the program has much more work to be done in order to bring in a complete class that puts the UH football team in the best place to win in the future.

“Good overall start,” Holgorsen said. “That’s all it is. A start. We’ve got 15 more to sign and throughout the course of the year we’ll sign 15 in a variety of ways.”

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