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Houston inks 21 in Early Signing Period

Major Applewhite got almost all of his recruits signed Wednesday, but still has a few areas to address before February

NCAA Football: Houston at South Florida Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

A new era has begun in college football, and it’s one that seems to be well liked by many. Recruits were able to sign National Letters of Intent starting on Wednesday, and it lessens some of the drama surrounding the recruiting process.

While the Cougars have been in Hawai’i, it didn’t stop them from inking 21 recruits Wednesday. Houston has the 64th best class in the nation according to 247Sports and the third best in the AAC.

Major Applewhite handled the adversity of having a bowl game and being in Hawai’i well. Houston only lost out on one recruit, when quarterback Chance Amie flipped late from the Cougars to Syracuse. With just D’Eriq King, Bryson Smith and Kyle Allen on scholoarship for 2018, this will be an area of focus for Applewhite’s staff leading up the the final signing period. Houston has two scholarships left to use for this class.

Houston went with a #RedOps18, which looked pretty cool when they announced a signing. A personalized video was made for each of the recruits, which you can see below.

So now that the excitement has died down, let’s take a look at each player who signed their letter of intent to play for Houston.

RB Kelan Walker - 6-2, 205

Previous School: DeSoto (DeSoto, TX)

247 Sports Composite Rating: 0.8667

Notable Offers: Colorado, Iowa State, SMU, UTSA, Tulsa

Walker was the first recruit to sign with the Cougars, and he was also their first commitment for this class. Houston has five backs on their roster, but four will be juniors or seniors next year.

ATH Julon Williams - 5-9.5, 182

Previous School: Judson (Converse, TX)

247 Sports Composite Rating: 0.8664

Notable Offers: Utah, Colorado State, Kansas State, Northwestern, Oklahoma State, TCU, Toledo, Tulane, Virginia

Williams played quarterback for Converse Judson, and has big ability thanks to explosiveness. He will, however, play slot receiver at Houston. D’Eriq King appeared to be making the same transition until finally settling on quarterback. Williams will be one of four receivers in the 2018 class, and Houston has six returners on roster as well.

OLB Dekalen Goodson - 6-2, 205

Previous School: John Tyler (Tyler, TX)

247 Sports Composite Rating: 0.8513

Notable Offers: Colorado State, Mississippi State

Houston continued its connection with John Tyler High School despite missing out on Amie. Goodson is the fifth player from John Tyler to sign with the Cougars since 2013. Goodson has 144 career tackles, 33 for loss, and 21 sacks.

WR Ja’Kori Morgan - 6-2, 190

Previous School: Clear Lake (Houston, TX)

247 Sports Composite Rating: 0.8484

Notable Offers: Army, Colorado State, Illinois, Kansas State, Utah

Morgan’s size could allow him to compete for a starting spot. With Linell Bonner and Steven Dunbar exhausting their eligibility, and only six receivers returning, Morgan has a chance to play next year.

ILB Donavan Mutin - 6-0.5, 228

Previous School: Klein Collins (Spring, TX)

247 Sports Composite Rating: 0.8477

Notable Offers: Air Force, Missouri, TCU, Texas Tech

Texas Tech made a late push for Mutin, but it wasn’t enough. Mutin also turned down a visit last week to TCU before choosing Houston. He had 101 tackles, 14 for loss, and 10 sacks in 2016. With plenty of options ahead of Goodson and Mutin, they may not see the field for a couple years.

DE Tahj Brown - 6-2.5, 256

Previous School: Donaldsonville (Donaldsonville, LA)

247 Sports Composite Rating: 0.8409

Notable Offers: Arkansas State, Kansas, Kansas State, Marshall, Memphis, SMU, NC State, Mississippi State

For the second year in a row, the Cougars signed a defensive end from the state of Louisiana. Last year’s recruit, Bryan Jones never joined the 2017 recruiting class due to what Major Applewhite called “an NCAA eligibility issue.” Brown had numerous Power 5 and AAC offers.

TE Christian Trahan - 6-3, 238

Previous School: Sulphur (Sulphur, LA)

247 Sports Composite Rating: 0.8369

Notable Offers: Georgia State, Louisiana Tech, Marshall, Memphis, Oklahoma State, SMU

Applewhite signed two tight ends after signing Parker Eichenberger in last year’s class. Trahan is another Louisiana recruit, and could compete for playing time next year with just three returners in 2018.

S Garrison Vaughn - 6-2, 190

Previous School: Belton (Belton, tX)

247 Sports Composite Rating: 0.8366

Notable Offers: Air Force, Bowling Green, Colorado State, Tulsa, Notre Dame

The safety position was going to be thin in 2018 with Khalil Williams and Terrell Williams leaving, but some help arrived with Vaughn’s signing. He had 200 tackles and nine interceptions in his last two seasons at Belton.

WR Peyton Sawyer - 5-10, 160

Previous School: Clear Springs (League City, TX)

247 Sports Composite Rating: 0.8248

Notable Offers: Tulsa, Arizona State, Texas Tech, Tulane

Another receiver added to the class, and Sawyer also brings returning experience to campus. He had 1,710 yards receiving with 23 touchdowns in his junior and senior seasons, and added eight kick return and a punt return touchdown as well.

CB Zaire Taylor - 6-1, 182

Previous School: O’Connor (Helotes, TX)

247 Sports Composite Rating: 0.8214

Notable Offers: Army, Purdue, SMU

Corner was a big weakness at times this year, and any help would be appreciated. Signing Taylor adds to the depth at corner and, even though he might not see the field, this position needs to improve in 2018.

WR Henry Thomas - 5-11, 175

Previous School: Fort Bend Marshall (Missouri City, TX)

247 Sports Composite Rating: 0.8205

Notable Offers: North Texas, Tulane

Thomas was the third player to sign with the Cougars, and had 835 yards and 13 touchdowns in his senior season. He adds to the depth at receiver as well.

TE Spencer Wells - 6-4, 230

Previous School: Dawson (Pearland, TX)

247 Sports Composite Rating: 0.8193

Notable Offers: Kansas State, TCU, Tulane

Similar body type to current Houston tight end Romello Brooker, Wells will also compete for playing time. Tight ends could be utilized more in 2018 if the receiving corps can’t find someone to emerge.

OT Bo Alexander - 6-4, 300

Previous School: Arizona Western College (Yuma, AZ)

247 Sports Composite Rating: 0.8167

Notable Offers: Temple

Alexander was committed to Temple before flipping late to Houston. He has two years of eligibility remaining after transferring from Arizona Western College.

S Gleson Sprewell - 6-0, 182

Previous School: Mesa Community College (Mesa, AZ)

247 Sports Composite Rating: 0.8100

Notable Offers: N/A.

Sprewell was the first junior college player to sign with Houston this year, and adds some much needed depth at the safety position. Garrett Davis is going to need a partner, and pickings are pretty slim right now.

OT Max Banes - 6-5, 307

Previous School: St. Thomas (Houston, TX)

247 Sports Composite Rating: 0.8095

Notable Offers: Arkansas

If you can beat out Arkansas for an offensive lineman, that could mean you’re getting a a big boy to campus. Banes fits the bill, and adds some size to an offensive line that struggled winning the battle in the trenches last year. It might be a year or two before he sees the field, but at least he’ll fill out his uniform. Banes is the son of former Houston letterman, Joey Banes

OT Kameron Lewis - 6-4, 300

Previous School: Klein Collins (Spring, TX)

247 Sports Composite Rating: 0.8065

Notable Offers: UTSA, Texas State, Tulsa

Houston may not need help at tackle, but Lewis could get moved around depending on how the depth ahead of him pans out.

DE Logan Hall - 6-6, 225

Previous School: Belton (Belton, TX)

247 Sports Composite Rating: 0.8054

Notable Offers: Bowling Green, TCU

My favorite player in this class. Hall, who’s teammate is fellow Cougar signee Garrison Vaughn, has the frame to add weight. He’ll need to do so to see the field, but he gives Houston a long defensive end with athleticism.

DE Willie Smith - 6-2, 245

Previous School: Spring (Spring, TX)

247 Sports Composite Rating: 0.8014

Notable Offers: Memphis, Texas State

Smith ran for four touchdowns in high school, but was more effective at defensive end. Smith’s size is better than the aforementioned Hall, but he also may not see the field. Another potential issue is Houston is thin at defensive tackle with just Ed Oliver and Ayimiel Fleming at the position. With Oliver’s future pointing towards an early exit to the NFL, Fleming is the only DT on the roster for 2019. Someone would obviously make a move inside from defensive end by then, but addressing it in recruiting this year would help.

S Jonathan Phenix - 6-0, 175

Previous School: McGregor (McGregor, TX)

247 Sports Composite Rating: 0.7954

Notable Offers: N/A

Phenix has some speed, which will be useful when tracking down receivers. Might have to add to his frame if Houston wants to use him how they’ve used the two Williams’ and Davis throughout their careers.

OT Jack Freeman - 6-4, 260

Previous School: Heritage (Midlothian, TX)

247 Sports Composite Rating: 0.7902

Notable Offers: Tulsa

Freeman became the first player from Midlothian Heritage to sign with an FBS school. He will need to bulk up before he sees time, but that shouldn’t be a problem.

OLB Zamar Kirven - 6-2, 200

Previous School: Mart (Mart, TX)

247 Sports Composite Rating: 0.7903

Notable Offers: N/A

Houston’s final signee on Wednesday, giving them 21 recruits for the day that signed. Another backer that might have to wait before seeing the field, but adds depth to the position.