The Houston Cougars and new head coach Tom Herman landed a significant commitment in five-star defensive tackle Edward Oliver, the sixth-ranked player in the ESPN 300. Oliver not only gives the Cougars one of the top defensive prospects in the 2016 class, he is far and away the most heralded recruit in the program's recent history.
What he brings: Oliver can be a tough, athletic, and disruptive presence in the trenches. Among the top-ranked D-linemen, Oliver can be a bit unassuming in physical build, but surely you’ve learned by now to never judge a book by its cover. He may not have a physically intimidating type build, but he does have good size at this stage and possesses excellent playing strength and very good get-off quickness. He is a high-motor player that can be tough to get and keep blocked. He moves extremely well for his size and can be very effective on the move; exploiting gaps and executing stunts. His range, coupled with his effort, can allow him to be a factor in pursuit. While a very mobile defensive tackle, he can also be physical in taking on blockers. He fires off and when he wins with quickness and leverage, he can be tough to move. While he needs to continue to improve usage, he displays quick hands and the upper-body strength to shed blockers to make a play at the line. With a good first step, violent hands and his agility and motor, he can be a disruptive interior pass-rusher as well.
How he fits: This is a darn good football player that should quickly begin to contribute. It’s a new regime, but still a program that lost several D-linemen after last season, so Houston fills a need in a big way with Oliver. With his size and athleticism, he can offer some versatility in how the Cougars utilize him in their base 3-4 defense. He is strong enough and has enough size to fit as a five-technique, can move inside and be disruptive as a three-technique when they utilize a four-man front. Also, he runs and moves well enough that they could potentially even stand him up. You could also make the argument that with talent maximization, there wouldn’t be many like Oliver lining up in the trenches in the American Athletic Conference. So, from an on-field standpoint, the Cougars are getting an excellent player that could quickly contribute and potentially arm them with a real disruptive front-seven presence.
Reminds us of: Reminds us some of former Auburn DT Gabe Wright in that neither will just jump out at you in physical stature, but in the pads between the white lines, both can be aggressive with the ability to move well for their size.
How the class is shaping up: Well, this class just got a huge shot in the arm! This is its third commitment and it is a high-profile pickup, giving this “Group of 5” program not only a verbal commitment from an ESPN 300 prospect, but a five-star ranked player among the top 10 nationally. Oliver also is a Houston kid and his brother, Marcus, is on the roster. From a recruiting standpoint moving forward, this could not only be a great fit, but a potential catalyst for new head coach Tom Herman’s first full class.