The high school football talent in Texas is such that any of the state’s less prominent programs — not Texas or Texas A&M, essentially — is a sleeping giant. All a coach has to do is aggressively tap into the local recruiting reserves to awaken the giant, which is what new Houston head coach Tom Herman has done.
Herman landed a verbal commitment from 5-star defensive tackle Edward Oliver Thursday, setting the stage for Friday’s addition of 4-star tackle Jordan Elliott. By adding them to the fold, Houston jumped ahead of such Power Five notables as Oklahoma State and even Texas
Both Oliver and Elliott are from the Houston high school scene, and Elliott promised on Twitter that their commitments are the start of a “#HTownTakeover,” suggesting that this weekend is just the beginning.
Just got off the phone with coach Herman and now I am officially Committed to the University of Houston #HTownTakeover this real be a cool 💯
— Jordan (@JAE__95) May 22, 2015
Tom Herman is the ideal head coach to lead this takeover, which has almost limitless potential for the University of Houston. The former Ohio State offensive coordinator already had an extensive background in the Lone Star State, with assistant stops at Sam Houston State, Texas State and Rice.
His Texas ties helped Ohio State land quarterback J.T. Barrett.
Likewise, Tom Herman’s experience with quarterbacks including Barrett, Braxton Miller and Cardale Jones at Ohio State, and before that Rice star Chase Clement, plays well with Houston’s traditions.
Herman inherited a program with a solid foundation, thanks to Art Briles and Kevin Sumlin, both of whom have propped up other Texas programs in the Power Five since leaving UH. Briles and Sumlin both boast quarterback resumes that rival any in college football, including Kevin Kolb (Briles) and Case Keenum (Sumlin) in their time at Houston.
Tom Herman promises to continue that tradition.
With those qualities and now flexing his recruiting muscles locally, Tom Herman can build from that foundation to turn Houston into a Top 25 program; a program playing for the American Athletic Conference championship every season and vying for the Group of Five’s bid into the New Year’s Six.
UH has the history as evidence that such greatness can be accomplished. Long before Kolb or Keenum, Andre Ware was the quintessential Cougars quarterback. He brought the Heisman Trophy to Houston in 1989, during an era when the Cougars were a Top-10 team.
The dissolving of the Southwest Conference and NCAA sanctions hit Houston hard shortly thereafter, and aside from a few, fleeting flirtations like 2011, the Cougars have never returned to that level.
But with a new facility, new conference and new head coach in Tom Herman, Houston is trending in the right direction. So long as top-flight local prospects like Oliver and Elliott continue to take notice, there’s no reason Houston couldn’t become the new TCU.