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Breaking down Houston’s 14 Early Signing Day recruits

Major Applewhite and staff worked with limited numbers to sign 14 recruits.

NCAA Football: Tulane at Houston Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Even though Houston signed fewer players than last year, the class overall had a better rating than in 2018. Major Applewhite and his staff were already working with limited numbers thanks to the number of graduate transfers they brought in this year, but they still did some solid work with the 2019 class.

Houston signed 14 players in the early signing period, ranking 73rd in the country and fifth in the AAC. One general observation is that the Cougars weren’t beating out many big schools to get some of these kids. Some of them might be hidden gems, but having nearly every player go unnoticed is unlikely. Houston fans may also be upset where Houston ranks in the country, as well as in the conference. Let’s take a look at each player and break down what they bring to the team.

WR De’Corian “JT” Clark— Fort Worth, TX

Height: 6’2”

Weight: 200

247 Sports Composite Rating: .8235

Other Notable Offers: Lamar

Analysis: Clark was the first in the 2019 recruiting class to sign his national letter of intent to play with the Cougars. While it is unlikely that he sees the field in his first year, we’ve seen what players of his size can do. Keith Corbin and Courtney Lark have benefited from being bigger receivers that can win 50/50 balls, and Clark can do the same.

OL Rason Williams II— Houston, TX

Height: 6’5”

Weight: 250

247 Sports Composite Rating: .8018

Other Notable Offers: N/A

Analysis: Speed is the name of his game, and his film shows that. Houston battled with injuries all year, and saw their top three players go down with injuries at this position. Jerard Carter, Isaiah Chambers, and Payton Turner were all lost for the season at some point, and depth became a major concern. Like Turner, Williams will need to add some size, but that shouldn’t be a problem once he gets on campus.

QB Levi Williams- San Antonio, TX

Height: 6’4”

Weight: 215

247 Sports Composite Rating: .8464

Other Notable Offers: N/A

Analysis: Williams won’t play next year if D’Eriq King is healthy, but that’s not a problem. He should be in contention with Clayton Tune and Bryson Smith when King is out of eligibility. Williams has a quick release in his throwing motion, but it doesn’t always seem fluid. He’s not as fleet of foot as King or Tune, but he has solid awareness in the pocket. His accuracy is also something to note, as he knows exactly where to put passes for his receivers.

OL Patric Paul— Houston, TX

Height: 6’7”

Weight: 330

247 Sports Composite Rating: .8153

Other Notable Offers: Tulsa

Analysis: Massive lineman as you can tell by his size. Tends to overpower his opponent with his power and strength. Houston may not need a tackle next year, but Paul could contend for a spot the year after. It will be interesting to see how he deals with college defensive linemen. It doesn’t appear that he has the greatest speed, so he may struggle with a speed rush in the pass game. He will not, however, struggle with anyone’s strength.

LB Terrance Edgeston— Falkner, MS

Height: 6’2”

Weight: 220

247 Sports Composite Rating: .8312

Other Notable Offers: FAU, New Mexico State, Troy, Stephen F. Austin

Analysis: Another position of need for the Cougars. Physicality was a struggle for Houston at linebacker in 2018, and Edgeston could help with that. He’s an aggressive player that doesn’t second guess his decisions, and commits at full speed. With four players out of eligibility at linebacker, Edgeston could easily win one of the starting spots in 2019. It’s a position that simply needs to play better.

CB Isaiah Essissima— Missouri City, TX

Height: 5’10”

Weight: 180

247 Sports Composite Rating: .8410

Other Notable Offers: Boise State

Analysis: Another player that could be in consideration for a starting spot. Essissima has great awareness at cornerback, as evidenced by his ability to read a quarterback and understand certain route combinations. He may have the best hands among defensive backs on the team because he also played receiver in high school. He’s a great playmaker that could be a spark in the defensive backfield.

WR Ke’Andre Street— Tyler, TX

Height: 6’3”

Weight: 200

247 Sports Composite Rating: .8431

Other Notable Offers: Boston College, Bowling Green, North Texas

Analysis: Just like JT Clark, it may be difficult for Street to see the field in 2019, but that’s not because of his abilities. Street has great size with a great set of hands. He caught a number of difficult passes, and some in extremely clutch situations. Defensive backs will have a tough time covering him in jump ball situations, and his long strides will be tough to cover downfield as well.

WR Ife Adeyi— Mansfield, TX

Height: 5’9”

Weight: 160

247 Sports Composite Rating: .8499

Other Notable Offers: UConn, New Mexico, Southern Mississippi

Analysis: Everyone who looks at this kid is going to comment on his height, but his game proves that he plays anything but that. Adeyi could be like Marquez Stevenson in the Cougars offense as a slot player. He has the quickness to catch screen passes and break tackles for big gains, but he also can win contested matchups downfield. His ball skills are good, and defensive backs will have to worry about that on top of his speed.

DL Taures Payne— Hoover, AL

Height: 6’4”

Weight: 260

247 Sports Composite Rating: .8656

Other Notable Offers: Kentucky, Florida, FAU

Analysis: Might be the most well rounded player in this class. Expect him to win a starting job on the defensive line right away. Payne is a big body with good speed to go with it. He is a physical player that Houston desperately needs at his position. The question will be where he plays. After playing both end and tackle at Northwest Mississippi Community College, he most likely will be at end, but could also slide inside as well.

DL Justin Harris— Gonzales LA

Height: 6’5”

Weight: 260

247 Sports Composite Rating: .7900

Other Notable Offers: LSU, SMU

Analysis: If you didn’t know what Houston’s biggest concern was going into this recruiting season, you could figure it out quickly. Harris is another defensive linemen added to the 2019 class, and another player that could be plugged in right away to the starting lineup. Depth was a major concern for the Cougars this year, and Harris is another guy that could help that issue.

OL Roquice Chaney— Houston, TX

Height: 6’5”

Weight: 340

247 Sports Composite Rating: .8366

Other Notable Offers: Missouri, Arizona, Georgia State

Analysis: Teammate of Rason Williams. He has great size that helps him jump out on film. His size and strength are his biggest asset, and make him difficult to run through or get around. He most likely will slide to guard with his limited mobility, but he should make a tremendous impact even if he does move there.

S Ronald Nunnery- Pearland, TX

Height: 6’2”

Weight: 205

247 Sports Composite Rating: .8389

Other Notable Offers: Boise State, Air Force, Colorado, Colorado State

Analysis: If Garrett Davis doesn’t get another year of eligibility, Deontay Anderson is going to need a partner at safety. Nunnery could be the guy to join him. Houston likes to have safeties that have good ball skills and are also not afraid of contact. They’re newest recruit possesses both of those skills. Expect him to compete for a starting spot right away.

OL Chayse Todd— Crosby, TX

Height: 6’2”

Weight: 270

247 Sports Composite Rating: .8282

Other Notable Offers: Air Force, Army

Analysis: Need a physical player? This is your guy. Todd is a nasty lineman who always finishes a play. If you’re a defensive lineman going against him, you’re probably going to end up on your back. He finishes every play no matter if he’s near the play or not. Todd is always looking for someone to block, so defenders need to have their head on a swivel at all times.

LB/DL Nelson Ceaser— Missouri City, TX

Height: 6’3”

Weight: 220

247 Sports Composite Rating: .8871

Other Notable Offers: Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa State

Analysis: Best player in Houston’s class. Ceaser had his hand on the ground in high school, but could be standing up in college. He could fill a role that Emeke Egbule played, where he plays linebacker but is also utilized in the pass rush. Houston’s top recruit uses his hands extremely well when taking on a blocker, and that has to do with his long reach. He can keep blockers away from him, which also allows him to control his opponent.