Once upon a time, there was once a debate that raged on among recruiting analysts on who the better prospect was between Alabama signee Kendall Jones (Killeen Shoemaker) and Houston signee Ed Oliver (Spring Westfield). Both were very highly sought after by colleges all over the country, as Jones wowed analysts and scouts alike with his immense size and strength (he was nicknamed “The Hulk”) and Oliver impressed with his skillset that consisted of freakish athleticism for a defensive tackle and one heck of a motor.
They say hindsight is 20/20, but so far looking back on this debate it doesn’t seem like this one is going to be close. Jones did not evolve as a player during his senior year of high school and now has found himself in the junior college ranks due to academic reasons. Meanwhile, Oliver has made a name for himself from the very first game of his freshman season.
At 6’2, 280 pounds, Oliver displayed very uncommon athleticism for a high school defensive tackle. If you want an idea of how athletic Oliver is, one of the first plays on one of his highlight tapes is him not giving up on a play after overrunning the quarterback, then recovering a fumble and returning it 101 yards for a touchdown after juking a pursuing defender. Again, this is a defensive tackle we are talking about. On the very next play, Oliver bench presses a guard right into the quarterback’s lap and creates a sack fumble that ends up being returned for another touchdown by a teammate.
It’s safe to say that Oliver wasn’t a guy I had to watch very long to figure out that he was a no brainer, and that he was more than deserving of the offer sheet that included scholarships from the best schools in the country. Despite holding offers from programs from all over the country, Oliver shocked the world and committed pretty early to Tom Herman and the University of Houston, where his older brother currently attends and his former high school coach Corby Meekins is on the coaching staff. In the era of recruiting where we often see top recruits flip and flop between commitments to different schools, Oliver never wavered with his commitment and was never one for the lime light that comes with recruiting, as he stuck with his commitment to the Cougars despite the constant pleading from several top programs trying to get their foot in the door.
Oliver gave Houston its first five star signee in the history of the program and instantly sent chills down the spines of offensive coordinators in the AAC.
As you would expect, it didn’t take Oliver very long to make his way into the starting lineup for Houston. Not only did it not take him long to get on the field, it also didn’t take him very long to make his presence felt throughout the college football world. In the season opener against Oklahoma, Oliver tallied two sacks against the Sooners and constantly flashed his playmaking ability as the Cougars made a statement with a big win over a team who made the college football player in 2015. On one particular play, I remember Oliver dropping from his nose tackle position into the flat and then proceeding to chase down the ball carrier. I had to collect myself and then remind myself that A). He is only a freshman and B). He’s a freaking defensive tackle!
While I figured Oliver would achieve a good amount of success during his career at Houston, I did not think he would be playing at this level so soon in his career. If he is able to stay on this trend line there is no doubt he will be making his way to playing on Sundays and he will probably be a three and done player. As a college football fan, I am going to sit back and enjoy Oliver while I can during his collegiate career, because every Saturday the guy wearing number ten in the red and white is must see TV.
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