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Houston Cougars Football: 2021 Early National Signing Day Recap

It was a solid day for the Coogs, with a surprise to wrap it up.

NCAA Football: Tulane at Houston Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

Up until signing day, Houston had just 11 commits, ranking 104th in the nation and 10th in the AAC. It’s not wrong to be concerned about those numbers, but it was hard to believe that Dana Holgorsen’s staff would keep it that way. The Coogs signed nine commits yesterday, including a surprise signing at the end of the day.

S Mark Wilson—Houston , TX

247Sports Composite Rating: .8734
Other Notable Offers: Arkansas, Baylor, Kansas, SMU

Analysis: Wilson’s a high three star guy that could compete for a starting spot right away. He’s a guy who isn’t afraid to stick his nose in the trenches, and certainly has no problem sending a message with his pads. At Clear Lake, he also doubled as a returner, something that could get him on the field if he can’t find a starting spot in the secondary.

QB Maddox Kopp — Houston, TX

247Sports Composite Rating: .8633
Other Notable Offers: Central Michigan, Colorado, Ole Miss, Tulane

Analysis: This is the guy that everyone’s excited to see. At 6’5”, 210 pounds, Kopp has the frame that the coaching staff loves, and he has the arm talent to thrive in Dana Holgorsen’s system. It’s not a little crowded in the quarterback room with Clayton Tune, Logan Holgorsen and Sofain Massoud, so the competition going forward is going to be tight. Kopp’s going to be a great challenger and, like Tune, brings underrated athleticism to the table as well.

WR Carlton Guidry — Pearland, TX

247Sports Composite Rating: .8531
Other Notable Offers: Arizona, ECU, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, Tennessee, Texas Tech

Analysis: Probably my favorite player in this class. I think Guidry’s going to be a star for Houston because he plays at a speed that not many possess. Explosive off the line, Guidry will give Coogs fans Marquez Stevenson vibes with his quickness and change of direction.

G Carson Walker — Midlothian, TX

247Sports Composite Rating: .8464
Other Notable Offers: Army, Boise State, Kansas, Memphis, Tulsa

Analysis: This coaching staff has done well infusing a little nasty into the offensive line, but now they need to find a way to control it (penalties have hurt them this year). Insert Carson Walker, a player that fits that mold perfectly. The first thing you notice is Walker’s ability to dominate any opponent. His junior highlight tape on Hudl is nearly 10 minutes long, and nearly every play is him pancaking some defensive player into the turf.

CB Jalen Emery — Pearland, TX

247Sports Composite Rating: .8397
Other Notable Offers: Arkansas State, Boise State, Duke, Louisiana, Nevada, Wake Forest

Analysis: Guidry’s teammate, so you know Emery’s been tested in practice. Without Damarion Williams, someone needs to step up and take the cornerback spot opposite Marcus Jones. Who’s the say Emery can’t be that guy? He’s good at breaking on routes with receivers, and displays solid ball skills when the pass goes his way.

OT Alamarion Crim — Adamsville, AL

247Sports Composite Rating: .8234
Other Notable Offers: Duke, Air Force, Coastal Carolina, Arkansas State, Georgia Tech

Analysis: Crim’s not afraid to us his strength, though if he’s 6’3” I’d like to see him slide inside to guard. At times can play with a high pad level, but he’s so strong that it doesn’t matter. He also shows good athleticism for his size, getting to the second level and out in space well. Not many linebackers and defensive backs will want to see him headed their way.

DT Brian Merritt — Perkingston, MS

247Sports Composite Rating: .8303
Other Notable Offers: Liberty, Southern Miss, Troy, UTSA

Analysis: Another guy that could thrive under Brian Early, Merritt’s hands are some of the best I’ve seen come to Houston. He wastes no time shedding his man thanks to his quick hands and an ability to adjust quickly if his initial move doesn’t work. Houston’s interior defensive line could be a problem if both Merritt and Sears develop into what Early believe they can be, and pairing them with Chidozie Nwankwo should get fans excited.

DE Rafal Szymanski — Roswell, NM

247Sports Composite Rating: .8106
Other Notable Offers: Arkansas State, Ball State, FAU, New Mexico State

Analysis: When Payton Turner came to campus, I noted that he needed to add some weight to his frame. Listed at 6’5”, 217, Turner obviously knew that too and went to work. Now he’s 6’6”, 280 pounds and one of the best defensive ends in the country. I don’t know if Szymanski will go on that same path, but adding some weight will be the first thing he’ll need to do. He already has solid speed and other tools to be a great defensive end, and adding some meat to his frame could put him on the same trajectory as Turner.

S Antonio Brooks — Kilgore, TX

247Sports Composite Rating: .8346
Other Notable Offers: Arizona, Baylor, Louisiana

Analysis: If it weren’t for Kevin Sumlin getting fired, Brooks might still be an Arizona commit. Who knows how much that had to do with him flipping to Houston, but it was a nice surprise for the Coogs at the end of the day. Brooks is a playmaker who knows how to get the football back for his team, something that Houston didn’t do well this year.