Can 5-Star DT Ed Oliver's Pledge Make a Non-Power 5 School a Recruiting Sleeper?

Damon Sayles@@DamonSaylesNational Recruiting AnalystMay 22, 2015

Ed Oliver, a 5-star defensive tackle, committed to Houston on Thursday. How impactful will his commitment be to other high targets?
Ed Oliver, a 5-star defensive tackle, committed to Houston on Thursday. How impactful will his commitment be to other high targets?Credit: 247Sports

If you followed the recruiting of 5-star defensive tackle Ed Oliver—if you truly followed his process—you wouldn't consider his commitment to Houston Thursday evening a shock.

Oliver's older brother, Marcus, is a sophomore offensive lineman for the Cougars. His old high school coach is Corby Meekins, who spent 15 years at Westfield High School in Houston before joining Tom Herman's staff as the tight ends and fullbacks coach. Not to mention, Oliver has always had Houston high on his list, along with LSU.

Regardless, Oliver's pledge is of blockbuster status for Houston. Oliver is the first 5-star pledge for the Cougars in at least a dozen years. In fact, the last 4-star commit for the Cougars was wide receiver Deontay Greenberry in 2012. The last 4-star after that? Tight end Jon Clark back in 2002.

As the nation's No. 5 defensive tackle, Oliver is a player that many coaches want and many players want to play alongside. His commitment is exactly what the Cougars needed, as they now not only have a signature pledge in the 2016 class, but also have someone who can recruit players around the greater Houston area.

Take 4-star defensive tackle Jordan Elliott, for example. The Houston prospect, who attends Westside High School just minutes away from Oliver, announced his top eight Thursday, which included three SEC schools, two Pac-12 schools and a Big 12 and Big Ten school.

And Houston.

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Staying close to home to play college ball is something Elliott has thought of. Are the Cougars a legitimate contender for Elliott?

About as much as they were a contender for Oliver. And we saw how that ended up.

"I like the legacy that we can build," Elliott said of Houston. "Me and Ed combined would be a scary sight."

Elliott said he has built great relationships with both defensive line coach Oscar Giles and director of high school relations Dallas Blacklock. He said he communicates with them on a daily basis.

Oliver's pledge bumped Houston up 23 spots to No. 57 in 247Sports' 2016 recruiting team rankings. The Cougars' 2015 class finished the year ranked No. 91, the team hasn't had a top-50 class since 2002.

That could change this year.

The entire Houston coaching staff has made several 2016 athletes a priority, and the odds of them landing a couple of other big names is higher than some may assume. The Cougars enjoyed another commitment victory Friday afternoon when offensive lineman Dixie Wooten, a local recruit representing Houston's Lamar High School, verbally committed.

Among the potential commits of the future are Elliott, wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland and defensive end Isaiah Chambers. The common denominator? All of the aforementioned recruits are 4-star talents who live minutes away from the Houston campus.

The connection among Houston players is as solid as any nationwide. The players, although competitors, are very tight-knit, and they have had multiple discussions about aligning in college to form one Houston-oriented megapower.

That megapower could form in their backyard.

"I think it is a bond that is getting stronger as time goes on," Elliott said of the player relationships in the city. "I see a group of us coming together at once and making it happen."

If it happens by way of the Cougars, give the major assist to Oliver for jump-starting it all Thursday night.

Damon Sayles is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Damon via Twitter: @DamonSayles

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