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National Signing Day

From the day that Tom Herman became the head coach at the University of Houston, he coined the phrase “H-Town Takeover”. His goal all along was to find the best players in the city of Houston and keep them right here at the city’s university. Some scoffed at his ambition to even recruit the best four and/or five star recruits in the Greater Houston area.

Then, last spring, he got a commitment from one of the best players in the nation and arguably the most disruptive defender in the state of Texas, DT Ed Oliver from Westfield HS in Spring, TX. This was before Herman had won one game at the University of Houston, so many people I spoke with at the time thought Oliver, a 6-2, 290 lb. whirling dervish of defensive line domination, would de-commit in due time and pick an SEC school or Texas or Michigan or another highly ranked FBS school.

Then, Herman’s Houston squad won 13 games, an AAC Championship and a New Year’s Six Bowl game over Florida State. It now made sense that Herman COULD take over the city of Houston, but, again, many questioned whether a 5-star recruit would sign with a team in the AAC. But, that’s the great thing about takeovers – you never see them coming.

On National Signing Day Wednesday, Oliver’s fax was indeed received by the Cougars’ football office. It was the first 5-star recruit to sign with a non-Power 5 conference in, well, quite some time. He was the only 5-star prospect to sign with the AAC. When Rivals posted a map of where all the 5-star prospects came from, there were only three (of 31 total) from the state of Texas. With an Ole Miss and a Texas logo in north Texas, there was the U of H logo signifying Oliver’s signing with Houston.

Houston wasn’t the only 2016 AdvoCare Texas Kickoff combatant to boast about signing a 5-star recruit. The Oklahoma Sooners are coming off a Big 12 Championship and a berth in the four team College Football Playoff. But, it’s been a few years since the Sooners have signed a 5-star prospect.

That changed on Wednesday as the Sooners signed one of the best players from a state that’s been really good to them since Bob Stoops took over – California. Fresno, CA Clovis West LB Caleb Kelly was the third ranked player in the nation at his position, 14th in the country and was ranked third overall in the state of California. The US Army All-American was courted by national powers Notre Dame, Michigan, Oregon and Alabama but Oklahoma secured his signature on Signing Day.

However, the Sooners may get instant impact from a pair of junior college offensive linemen. Ben Powers is a 6-5, 315 lb. tackle from Butler C.C and Ashton Julious is a road grading 6-6, 341 lb. guard. These two didn’t sign on Wednesday because they had already enrolled for the spring semester and will compete in the spring for potential OL starting jobs.

When the Cougars and the Sooners take the NRG Stadium field in September 2016, it’ll be a matchup of two outstanding dual threat quarterbacks – Greg Ward Jr (UH) and Baker Mayfield (OU). But, these youngsters that signed on signing day, or enrolled early, could impact both teams in 2016 and beyond.

By: John Harris


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