When Tom Herman took the Houston head coaching job in December of 2014, he knew he wouldn’t have to go too far on the recruiting trail to bring in some serious talent.
“Your offices better stay neat. You better have a highlight tape ready, a recruitment presentation ready, all your spiels ready,” Herman wrote about the mantra he tells his coaches. “Because there are 10 five-star prospects living within 20 minutes of us and they can show up at any time.
Herman’s idea to ‘put a fence’ around Houston and use the likes of Andre Ware, Slim Thug, Paul Wall and J.J. Watt to pull in recruits is nothing new, but its effectiveness is off the charts. From bringing in five-star defensive tackle Ed Oliver to poaching former Texas A&M quarterback Kyle Allen, Herman made history with the Cougars 2016 recruiting class, as Houston ranked higher than any other non-Power Five conference has in a long time, if not ever.
Here’s a breakdown of the 19 recruits that committed on National Signing Day:
Ed Oliver | DT | *****
Oliver was one of those 10 five-star prospects that Tom Herman talked about ad nauseam. He called himself the least recruited five-star prospect in the world, but with offers from Alabama, Notre Dame, LSU, Texas, Texas A&M and Baylor, you wouldn’t even know it.
Courtney Lark | WR | ****
Tyrie Cleveland flipping at the last minute from UH to Florida hurt, but Courtney Lark is an excellent replacement for Demarcus Ayers who’s leaving to pursue the NFL. The 6-foot-1 Lark had 68 catches for 1,222 yards and 18 touchdowns as a senior. The Bellaire wide receiver was named District 20-6A MVP and picked the Cougars over Baylor, Nebraska, TCU and UCLA.
Na’Ty Rodgers | OT | ****
Rodgers was ranked the seventh overall junior college prospect and comes to a Houston team that lacks serious depth along the offensive line. Standing at 6-foot-5, 290 pounds, Rodgers will provide much needed protection for Greg Ward and possibly Kyle Allen in 2017 if everything goes according to plan. Other schools to offer Rodgers: TCU, Ole Miss, Louisville, Missouri
D’Eriq King | ATH | ***
The consensus around King is that he’s a three-star quarterback, but a four-star athlete. Who cares. Either way, King’s athleticism and talent wowed Manvel fans and drew the attention of TCU, Baylor, Michigan State and Clemson. The senior racked up over 3,500 yards of offense and 51 touchdowns as a future Horned Frog, before de-committing and joining the H-Town Takeover.
Collin Wilder | DB | ***
Wilder was a four-year starter for the state champion Katy Tigers while starting the last 64 straight games. He opted to stay inside the Grand Parkway over Missouri, Northwestern, Tennessee, Texas Tech and Wisconsin.
Bowman Sells | QB | ***
Sells was named the District 10-5A offensive MVP after accumulating nearly 4,000 yards of offense and 47 touchdowns for Lovejoy as a senior. The pro-style quarterback is more athletic than he’s given credit for and runs the option quite well. Sells held offers from Ohio State, Clemson, Iowa and Texas before committing to Houston.
Marquez Stevenson | WR | ***
Stevenson was one of the few recruits that Herman picked up from outside the Houston area. The Shreveport native caught 50 passes for 900 yards and eight touchdowns, while adding 445 rushing yards and five touchdowns on the ground. His other offers included Baylor, Miami, Mississippi State and TCU among others.
Mulbah Car | RB | ***
Car was named District 26-4A MVP after a monster senior year that included 1,675 rushing yards and 33 touchdowns. He set the Austin Independent School District rushing record while at Austin Reagan and picked the Coogs over Oregon State, Indiana, Purdue and Nebraska.
Keith Corbin | WR | ***
Out of Beaumont, Corbin had 45 catches for 896 yards and nine touchdowns as a senior en route to being named all-district in 2014 and 2015. TCU, Texas Tech and Wisconsin were just some of the schools to offer the 6-foot-2 wide receiver.
Keenan Murphy | OG | ***
Murphy’s addition is another piece of the offensive line puzzle. The 6-foot-2, 295 pound guard will be battling in the trenches for Houston after starting 39 games for Crosby High School, going 34-5 in that span. Memphis, Missouri and Texas Tech were just some of the few that will do without his services.
Braylon Jones | DT | ***
Jones is a massive 6-foot-4, 290 pound defensive tackle. He was ranked the 10th best defensive tackle in the state of Texas and selected Houston over Colorado State, Navy and Texas.
Dixie Wooten | OT | ***
Wooten decided to keep his 6-foot-5, 322 pound frame in the Houston area over Iowa State, Miami and UTSA. He was the eighth ranked offensive tackle in the state of Texas and named first team all-district 20-6A in 2015.
J.J. Dallas | DB | ***
From San Diego to Corpus Christi, Dallas comes to Houston after spending a year at Blinn. The ninth ranked junior college cornerback still has three years of eligibility remaining and committed to the Cougars, who were surprisingly the only school courting him.
Terrell Williams | DB | ***
Another JUCO cornerback to pair with J.J. Dallas, Williams was the ninth ranked junior college safety. He comes to Houston after a sophomore campaign with 51 tackles and two picks. West Virginia, Iowa State and New Mexico also offered Williams.
Patrick Rosette | DB | ***
Rosette was named all-district 24-5A out of Richmond Foster. He tallied 133 tackles, four forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and an interception in the last two years playing free safety. Rosette selected UH over UTSA.
Aymiel Fleming | DT | ***
Ranked 79th among defensive tackles by ESPN. Fleming racked up 133 tackles and seven sacks during his high school career. Fleming selected the Cougars over SMU, UTSA, Sam Houston State and Nevada.
Hasaun Glasgow | DE | ***
Another Manvel player coming to Houston, Glasgow was named all-district 22-6A in 2015. The 6-foot-3 weak side defensive end recorded eight sacks throughout his high school career and picked the Cougars over Louisville, SMU and Texas State.
Ka’Darian Smith | DB | ***
Forty-eight tackles, 14 pass breakups, two interceptions and a fumble as a junior. Selected Houston over Iowa State, Rice, Texas Tech and SMU.
Javian Smith | DB | **
Our last but certainly not least prospect, Smith was ranked the 60th best player in the Houston area and received first-team all-district 23-5A honors in 2014 and 2015. Smith was also a standout special teamer at Richmond Bush. Other schools to offer the cornerback: SMU, Sam Houston State and Fresno State.
(h/t SB Nation)