How the Houston football team helped with Hurricane Harvey recovery

University of Houston director of player personnel Preston Pehrson assists members of the football program as they collect donations. Tom McCarthy Jr. for ESPN

Standing in the parking lot of Kidd Roofing in Austin, Texas, was not where Preston Pehrson imagined he would be on his first Thursday of game week at the University of Houston. He accepted the director of player personnel job at Houston nearly two weeks ago, leaving his role at Navy in Annapolis, Maryland, and found himself supervising a hurricane relief donation drive with the Houston football team.

The drive was organized by Houston head coach Major Applewhite and sports information director David Bassity to ensure the team didn't travel back to its hometown empty-handed. After spending nearly a week in Austin, the Cougars loaded up 18-wheelers donated by other in-state football programs filled with supplies to help the relief effort. This would be the first step in Houston's drive back home and the first step to recovery for the members of the program.

Here are photos from the donation drive in Austin and the team's return to Houston. -- Tom VanHaaren

Gathering donations in Austin

Back in Houston

The Cougars' arrival with supplies at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Houston was a welcome one. A place that had mostly clothes for Harvey victims was suddenly filled with just about everything else by time the Cougars were done. Said Armando Walle, a Texas state representative who is a member of the church and helped coordinate the donations, "These people need these things."

One of the special guests of the day was a surprise one: New York Mets pitcher AJ Ramos. A Lubbock, Texas, native, Ramos was in Houston with his team to play the Astros over the weekend, but he decided to use his off day to lend a hand. He and his agent sought out places Ramos could assist, and Ramos went to four of them Friday. Asked what he thought of Ramos' showing up out of the blue to help the Cougars, coach Major Applewhite said, "What a badass." -- Sam Khan Jr.