2011 University of Houston Football Recruiting Report Card
Despite a deflating season and several defections from a class that looked to be among the best of the non-AQ-conference schools, the University of Houston still managed to sign a class rated in the first-division of C-USA. Even though the Cougars aren't rated in the top three in their league, only two schools have a higher average rating per recruit, and the schools that finished higher signed anywhere from four to nine more players, obviously upping their point total. So even with a tougher sell this year (UH wasn't ranked #12 during the season, nor did the UH logo appear on ESPN most every Saturday), the Cougars still managed a fine class, though many fans may still be sighing, "What might have been!" If not for the decommitments, the ‘11 class may have been tops in C-USA and on par with mid-level BCS schools such as Arizona and Maryland.
Recruiting rankings matter about as much as those of NFL Draft ratings. Are there hits and misses? Absolutely. Sometimes the ratings of players and even complete classes can be totally off. But ask a coaching staff after it has drawn up its recruiting board if it would be as happy with the #16 defensive tackle on that board as the guy they have at #2. Check and see if Kent, Western Kentucky, Bowling Green, New Mexico State, and San Jose top Alabama, USC, Auburn, Texas, and LSU in the recruiting rankings next season. And ask that San Jose coach if he'd be willing to trade his lower-rated class for the one Nick Saban just signed.
In grading UH's class, an effort to be objective and fair was made. There are no As at any position. On the other hand, it really isn't fair to compare a C-USA class to one signed by Texas or USC. The rubric is neither based on a national scale or strictly one related to C-USA teams but rather somewhere in between, sort of a middle ground between schools in Houston‘s conference and BCS programs such as, say, Iowa State and Baylor. Take quarterback. Bram Kohlhausen is the highest rated C-USA quarterback signee, so if the grades were strictly based on how well UH did against C-USA competition, he would likely receive an A. But he would be considered a good but not excellent quarterback had he signed with Kansas State or Ole Miss. Also factored in is what the need was at each position, so quantity as well as quality plays a role. So with that in mind, remember, this is recruiting, Cougar fans. Subjectivity will always reign supreme in this realm.
Bram Kohlhausen (6-1, 190) Houston Lamar, TX
Kohlhausen was the top quarterback prospect in Houston this year. Based on film, he appears to be an ideal fit for UH's spread offense. He is accurate, plays baseball and has a strong arm, a good feel for the pocket, and an advanced understanding of the game for a high school kid. One service ranked him among the top 30 pro-style quarterbacks in the nation, and he appeared in several Texas top 100 lists throughout the season. In some respects, he is similar to Case Keenum. Kohlhausen isn't fast, but neither was Dan Marino. UH doesn't need Denard Robinson running the show but rather a pocket passer who can read defenses and get the ball to the open receiver. And if he can scramble for 10 yards when a seam opens, something Kohlhausen can do, so much the better. He's one of the top recruits in this class, and with him and David Piland coming up, UH should be in great hands at QB.
RUNNING BACK B-
Daniel Spencer (6-0, 185) Grandview, TX
Spencer was a jack-of-all-trades at Grandview, where he played some five different positions. But above all, he is an outstanding athlete, one the coaches have slated to play running back. And given his stats and speed, running back in a spread offense may be just the right fit for him. In the past two seasons, Spencer has 2297 yards on 197 carries, which comes out to almost 12 yards per carry. He's also scored 38 touchdowns. Additionally, he has 109 receptions for 1775 yards, a 16 yard per catch average, with 21 Tads. If he can come close to those kinds of numbers at UH, the Cougars will have a steal. Reportedly A&M almost offered Spencer as an athlete, but he committed to UH early and stuck with the Coogs. With Beall and Hayes going into their senior years, Spencer will be a welcome addition.
Even with the late loss of Jafus Gaines to, umm, Texas State, UH still managed to lasso another strong group of receivers. C. J. McElroy is a waterbug who should fit perfectly in Tyron Carrier's slot position. Mark Roberts, who stands 6-4 and has good speed, could give the Coogs a deep threat with some size. Both players made state top 100 lists. Peace was a bit of a surprise. A Texas Football Super Teamer in ‘08, he committed to Michigan but ended up signing with Arizona. He'll have a chance to win the position vacated by another Blinn alum, Kierre Johnson.
The Cougars thought they had corralled three of the top offensive tackles in the Texas-Louisiana region after receiving commitments from Jonah Austin, Michael Boddie, and Matt Wilson. Unfortunately, Austin accepted a late offer from LSU, Boddie switched to Missouri, and Wilson recommitted to Texas Tech. Those three would have comprised an offensive line class, especially with Kourtland Akins, that would have rivaled a number of good BCS programs. But instead the staff had to scramble to replace them with the best available prospects. They got two intriguing sleepers in Emeka Okafor and Zach Johnson. Both have excellent size. Whether they have the quickness to excel at the major college level is another question. Both are projects that could flourish or fail. Akins, however, is one of the best linemen in Houston and a valuable addition to the ‘11 class. Still, because of all the defections, this position took a hard hit. Akins keeps it from being rated a poor group, at least on paper.
DEFENSIVE LINE B
Alex Cooper (6-5, 250) Houston Second Baptist, TX
Keithen English (6-4, 315) Dallas Maceo Smith, TX
Joey Mbu (6-3, 300) Richmond Foster, TX
Dominique Smith (6-3, 310) Blinn JC, TX/Alief Hastings HS, TX
English and Mbu are fine high school prospects, who held BCS offers and have the size and talent to make a difference in the Cougar defensive front within two or three years. Iowa State badly wanted English, who also was pursued by Oklahoma State and Kansas. Arizona came after Mbu. Both players could be fine nose tackles. English seems a natural for the position. Mbu could play there or move to end. Dominique Smith isn't considered an elite junior college defensive linemen, but he's a good one who at 6-3, 310 is bigger now than any NT on the UH roster. He received interest from Tennessee and others. Smith will likely start at nose tackle in '11. Cooper is a project, but he's a long-limbed, athletic basketball player, who shouldn't have much problem getting up to 6-5, 290 within a couple of years. The Cougars desperately needed size up front to run the 3-4 efficiently. They got just that in English, Mbu, Smith, and possibly Cooper.
Lloyd Allen (6-4, 240) Gulf Coast CC, MS/Scotlandville HS, Baton Rouge, LA
Everett Daniels (6-0, 220) Trinity Valley CC, TX/Sachse HS, Garland, TX
Derrick Mathews (6-0, 190) Galena Park, North Shore HS, TX
Desmond Pulliam (6-0, 225) Louise, TX
William Moore (6-2, 205) Houston Madison, TX
Linebackers are sort of to the 3-4 what receivers are to the spread, so the coaches need to load up on them, and they did with this class. Probably the star of the group is Lloyd Allen, a 6-4, 240-pounder who appears extremely quick. He was teammates with Sammy Brown at Gulf Coast CC year and could make an immediate impact on the defense. Derrick Matthews may not have been the highest rated linebacker in the state, but it's unlikely any were better at the high school level. He was the linchpin of North Shore's stingy front seven two years running. If he can gain 20 pounds of muscle, he may be as good in college as he was in high school. Daniels ranked at or near the top of the SWJCFA in both tackles and sacks and should push for a starting job next to Marcus McGraw at inside linebacker. Pulliam played at a 1A school, Louise, and is something of a sleeper, but he‘s a fine athlete. Moore, a Houston TD Club Defensive finalist, was more well-known, but will have to make the transition to outside linebacker.
DEFENSIVE BACK B+
Chevy Bennett (6-1, 190) Navarro JC, TX/Sachse HS, Garland, TX
Kenny Farrow (5-10, 190) Hurst Bell, TX
Earl Foster (5-11, 195) Houston Lamar, TX
D.J. Hayden (5-11, 180) Navarro JC, TX/Fort Bend Elkins, TX
DeVonte Potier (5-10, 190) Houston Wheatley, TX
While signing as many big, talented defensive linemen as possible may have seemed paramount to Cougar fans, the secondary actually needed as much if not more attention. The top three cornerbacks from the 2010 team were seniors, so there is an immediate need there. The staff found about as good a pair of bookend junior college corners as possible in D.J. Hayden and Chevy Bennett. Hayden has the makings of a shutdown corner. Bennett brings size and can really lay the wood. The Cougars pulled a bit of a surprise by signing DeVonte Potier, an all-state CB from nearby Wheatley and the school‘s top 100m sprinter. It looked as if UH might lose another pledge when Earl Foster visited Oregon State, but he stuck with the Coogs. Foster was rated one of the top DBs in the state by more than one service, and finished the season in ESPN's state top 100 list. He has all the tools to be an outstanding strong safety. UH was the beneficiary of one decommitment when Kenny Farrow switched from Colorado. Cougar coaches had liked the talented running back, who also made some top 100 lists, as a defensive back for awhile. They hope his speed and toughness will translate well at free safety.
OVERALL GRADE: B-