Houston’s emergence as an upper-echelon team is not an anomaly or a progression that happened overnight.
The Cougars, a team ranked No. 13 in the country, started the 2016 season on a 5-0 roll and had the college football world on notice and Tom Herman at the pinnacle of every college team’s want list. Although Houston dropped its week six game against Navy by six points, the team has proved its relevance in the college football top-25 poll. Much of this success is the product of high-level recruiting under Herman.
During the offseason, Herman and his staff made a concerted effort to capitalize on the fertile recruiting grounds surrounding the school. Texas is one of the premier states when it comes to producing Division I football talent, making it a logical place for Houston to center the bulk of its recruiting efforts.
With this strategy firmly set in place, the Cougars implemented an “H-Town Takeover,” which is designed to keep the city’s best players at home and in a Houston uniform. This initiative has since spread to the whole state of Texas, and 17 of the program’s 20 committed recruits hail from the Lone Star State.
As of now, Houston’s 2017 recruiting class is ranked as the No. 34 class in the country according to 247Sports.com, a batch of prospects that slates as the second best in the AAC and one that was also recently improved with the pledge of threes-star defensive lineman Joe Anderson.
Coming from Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Wesson, Miss., Anderson is a strong, agile lineman that provides versatility for his future position coach. Over the past couple seasons in college, Anderson tacked on quality muscle to move from 250 to 303 pounds, clearly planting his position as one with his hand in the dirt. This weight gain also allowed Anderson to float from the strong-side defensive end position to defensive tackle.
Unlike most defensive linemen, though, Anderson is able to make this transition smoothly due to his discipline in clogging run lanes, his strong hands and his ability to keep leverage over a dropping tackle. Anderson also is skilled in shedding blocks and keeping blocker’s hands off him, freeing himself to lunge at the ballcarrier.
Based on the limited film of Anderson from this season, which can be viewed on Hudl, the Mississippi product has a bit more work to do on his pass rush, so it makes sense that he would set the edge from the strong-side. But when he does blow through a block in pursuit of the quarterback, Anderson is a disruptive force that collapses pockets in an instance.
Before issuing his pledge to Houston, Anderson picked up scholarship offers from 12 schools in total. His offer sheet currently lists Alabama, Colorado State, Iowa State, Kansas, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Texas A&M, UTSA, UCF and USC, according to 247Sports.com. Houston has already built up a lot of hype surrounding the program, and many other highly coveted recruits are taking notice.
Others who have already opted to join Anderson in Houston, specifically along the defensive line, include three-star weak-side defensive end Alexander Duke and two-star strong-side defensive end Chidi Ogbonnaya. That said, Anderson should have an opportunity for early playing time since he can provide assistance at both the inside and outside positions.