Tom Herman scored a significant victory months before he'll coach his first game at Houston. On Thursday night, blue-chip defensive tackle Ed Oliver verbally committed to the Cougars. Oliver chose Houston over a list of schools that included LSU, Alabama and Texas.
The commitment was first reported by the Houston Chronicle.
Rivals.com rates Oliver the No. 55 player and No. 7 defensive tackle in the class of 2016. The last time Houston landed a prospect as highly regarded as the Houston Westfield (Texas) standout was in 2012, when wide receiver Deontay Greenberry, the No. 49 player in that class, signed with the Cougars.
At first glance, it may seem surprising that Oliver spurned a host of high-major powers in favor of an American Athletic Conference program.
However, consider that Oliver’s former high school coach, Corby Meekins, joined Herman’s staff as tight ends coach in early January. In addition, Oliver’s older brother, Marcus, signed with Houston as a two-star offensive line prospect in the class of 2014.
In late April, the younger Oliver said in an interview that Houston “stands right now at number one” after naming the Cougars and LSU his top two schools the previous month. Apparently he didn’t waver on that stance.
At 6'2", 280 pounds, Oliver is highly rated due to his combination of quickness and power. As a junior last season, he recorded 84 tackles, 24 tackles for loss and seven sacks while helping Westfield reach the semifinals of the state playoffs, according to the Chronicle.
Herman, who was hired as Houston’s head coach in December after serving as Ohio State’s offensive coordinator, posted a tweet on Thursday night ostensibly reacting to Oliver’s pledge. NCAA rules prohibit Herman from publicly commenting on players who haven't yet signed their National Letter of Intent.
If Alexander honors his commitment and signs with Houston in February, he will join a program in need of help in the trenches. The Cougars ranked 106th in the country against the run last season, according to Football Outsiders' S&P+ Ratings.
Two other players from the class of 2016 have also committed to Houston: two-star defensive back Patrick Rosette and three-star quarterback Bowman Sells.