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If the Houston Cougars actually keep their 5-star recruit, they'll make history

And even if Ed Oliver ends up playing elsewhere, he's still given UH a big image boost.

Student Sports

Thursday, five-star defensive tackle Ed Oliver's commitment to Houston was a shocker to the college football world.

Yes, Oliver had previously expressed interest in Houston. It's his local college, his brother signed with the Cougars last cycle, and his former high school coach had joined Tom Herman's new staff.

But history says players like Oliver simply don't end up at non-power-conference programs like Houston. And if the country's 13th-ranked recruit ends up sticking with the Cougars, it would be the biggest get by a non-power in nearly a decade.

Since 2000, or right around when recruiting rankings become a national thing, only five five-star prospects have ended up signing with teams that were not in power conferences at the time. That's based on the 247Sports Composite, which combines each year's recruiting service rankings into one.

And of those five, only Brown and Bush played their whole careers for those schools. Mohetau ended up at Texas Tech. Olson transferred to UCLA. And Thompson finished at San Jose State.

This all means that if Oliver were to play his college career for UH, he'd be one of only three five-stars in the history of college football recruiting to sign with and finish at the same non-power.

And some of the above players had academic issues or religious affiliations impact their decisions. There's no indication that Oliver faces such an issue, but this means the number of times a non-power beat out majors for five-star talent is even less than the numbers suggest.

Will he stay committed through National Signing Day? Bigger schools are going to come after Oliver.

"Houston, huh? Welp, have fun getting double-teamed every single snap since you're the only elite player on that defense," they'll say to him.

But the debate about the likelihood of Oliver signing with the Cougars misses the mark.

Oliver's commitment gives the Cougars publicity they couldn't buy.

The story of a mega-recruit committing to a familiar program like Houston isn't new. It happened last year, when four-star running back Jordan Scarlett committed to FAU.

The commitment made waves in South Florida. Other recruits took note of FAU's efforts, much the same way recruits are likely looking at Houston now -- prospects Houston actually has a more realistic chance to sign. [Update: Four-star DT Jordan Elliott committed to Houston a day after Oliver] Perhaps some of those recruits will decide to visit Houston earlier or take an additional visit to the campus.

At the time, few recruiting analysts expected Scarlett's commitment to stick.

His commitment lasted seven months, from December to June. He ended up at Florida.

If Oliver eventually decommits, as history suggests, the positive buzz generated by his commitment won't be wiped out. This first quarter touchdown is a win for Tom Herman and staff, regardless of whether Oliver ever plays a down at Houston.