Deontay Greenberry: A Texans-Related Grain Of Salt For College Football National Signing Day


It is inarguable that the Texans' defense was one of the best in the NFL, statistically and situationally. They had one player selected to the Pro Bowl, one more go as a replacement, and three more selected as alternates. Several more can be categorized as "plus players" or solid contributors.

When the season ended, here is what the Texans' depth chart on defense looked like:

DT: Shaun Cody, Earl Mitchell
DE: J.J. Watt, Antonio Smith, Tim Bulman, Tim Jamison
LB: Brian Cushing, DeMeco Ryans, Connor Barwin, Brooks Reed, Tim Dobbins, Jesse Nading, Mister Alexander, Bryan Braman
CB: Kareem Jackson, Johnathan Joseph, Jason Allen, Brice McCain, Sherrick McManis, Brandon Harris
S: Glover Quin, Danieal Manning, Troy Nolan, Quintin Demps, Shiloh Keo

So, 25 players in all.

Now, before I lay out the Rivals.com grades on all of these guys, here is a little primer on what the star ratings mean in plain English:

FIVE STAR: Major impact player, probably immediately, and future All-American. Typically, there are only about 25-30 of these guys in an entire class across all of high school football.

FOUR STAR: Definite plus player, largely fits the physical profile of a five-star but needs to work on one or two things to get to that elite level. Typically, there are a few hundred of these players.

THREE STAR: Potential solid contributor or "glue guy." If a three-star blossoms into an All American, it's usually because of a position change and/or a physical change in body type. (Or Rivals.com's scouting group just missed on him.)

TWO STAR: Usually someone who is an inch too short, a tad too slow, and/or didn't play against great high school competition. For programs who aspire to be in the top 25 (both in recruiting and on the field), two-stars are basically like high school football lepers. If you're a coach and you land a two-star player at, say, Alabama or Florida or Ohio State, your fans are going to wonder what the hell you're doing.

So what kind of high school profiles did players on the staunch Texans defense have coming out of high school? Well, glad you asked (high school positions in parentheses):

2-star
Connor Barwin (TE)
Bryan Braman (DE)
Quintin Demps (S)
Tim Dobbins (LB)
Shiloh Keo (S)
Brice McCain (CB)
Sherrick McManis (CB)
Jesse Nading (DE)
Glover Quin (S)
J.J. Watt (TE)

3-star
Mister Alexander (LB)
Johnathan Joseph (CB)
Earl Mitchell (RB)
Troy Nolan (S)
Brooks Reed (RB)
DeMeco Ryans (LB)
Antonio Smith (DE)

4-star
Jason Allen (ATH)
Brian Cushing (LB)
Brandon Harris (CB)
Kareem Jackson (CB)
Tim Jamison (DE)

(NOTE: Tim Bulman, Shaun Cody, and Danieal Manning are not in the rivals.com database as the database only goes back to the 2002 recruiting class, and they were all recruited prior to 2002.)

Some observations from this little experiment:

-- There are exactly zero former five-star recruits on the Texans defense. The closest players they have to five-star recruits are Cody (who probably would have been one coming out of high school in 2001; he was a first team All-American coming out of Hacienda Heights, CA) and Cushing (who was considered a major stud coming out of New Jersey). Not surprisingly, both were part of some star-studded USC teams in the past decade.

-- Of the 25 players on the Texans' defense, TEN were two-star lepers recruits, including Connor Barwin (who has become one of the top pass rushers in football), J.J. Watt (who should go to about six or seven Pro Bowls before all is said and done), and Glover Quin (who is evolving into a plus player at safety). Think about that -- TEN guys were considered fringe COLLEGE players, let alone future pros.

-- Among the most decorated players on the defense is Kareem Jackson, who recently lost his title of "most vilified Texan" to Jacoby Jones in a "loser fumbles the game away" match in Baltimore.

-- Cushing is probably the only one on the list who has played to his rating throughout his career. Literally, everyone else on the list has either vastly outperformed their rating or have gotten "Peter principled" to some degree once they've gotten to the NFL.

Earlier, I mentioned the other variables that factor into whether or not a recruit lives up to expectations. You can have a roster full of four- and five-star players, but if your coaching staff can't develop talent, your strength and conditioning coach can't get them in shape, or the pressure of college academically and socially (including the lure of criminal activity) becomes too much to handle, then five stars may as well be zero.

(Truth be told, a failed five-star recruit has a bigger cost than just the underperformance of one guy. It carries an opportunity cost of other recruits that maybe the coaches stopped pursuing once that five-star guy committed.)

So Deontay Greenberry is a Houston Cougar. Good for Houston. Honestly, this is a much bigger win for the Cougars than it is a loss for Notre Dame. After all, Rivals.com says Greenberry is the 49th best player in the country, which makes him the highest recruit ever for U of H.

How will I sleep tonight?

Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. weekdays, and watch the simulcast on Comcast 129 from 6 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.


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24 comments
ShockerBOB
ShockerBOB

As a Coog Fan. Excellent article. 

AnOldCoog
AnOldCoog

There is one major correction.  Greenberry is NOT the highest recruit ever for the U of H.  Maybe the highest since the Scout/Rivals last decade. 

I know, I know... I am going into ancient history that is somewhat on a tangent to your main thesis. But when we were an independent (and also in the SWC), we had several nationally ranked classes.  At times we even had the top ranked recruit at a position in the nation (See T.J. Turner and Hosea Taylor in the Defensive Line).

Sorry Sean, but Johnny-come-latelys sometimes don't have the historical frame of reference that they need.

Martin
Martin

"After all, Rivals.com says Greenberry is the 49th best player in the country, which makes him the highest recruit ever for U of H."I assume you mean the highest recruit ever for UH since the advent of Rivals because players like Warren McVea, Darrell Shepard, Wilson Whitley, Allen Polk, Lloyd Archie, Hosea Taylor, T. J. Turner, and others were among the top 10 or so players in the country when they signed with Houston.  UH's '73 and '77 classes were national top 10 and numerous others ranked in the top 20.  

@SportsHutch
@SportsHutch

I think the real question an ND alum should be asking is what the young man's real motivation was for flipping. Certainly ND is a more famous institution than UH, there is more television and media coverage in general for ND programs, and it has a larger alumni base than UH. So what really made him trade all of that for UH? Was it strictly the chance to play earlier? Was it to be a bigger fish in a slightly smaller pond? Were there trust issues involved? Did he feel he couldn't trust Kelly and/or the ND to the same level as the UH staff? Was there apprehension due to Kelly's comments earlier this year that rankled his players? Was there concern Kelly might not be there 3 or 4 years from now? I would be very curious how much of the flip was due to UH winning him over and how much might be due to issues related to Brian Kelly.

Sean Pendergast
Sean Pendergast

I can only go by the parties I've talked to, Hutch. Tony Levine said to me today in studio on air and off air that the main things were (a) early playing time and (b) Deontay's relationship with Jamie Christian. Of course, Levine can't and wouldn't comment on issues DG may have had w/ Kelly. Putting the pieces together, I think if there were broader Kelly issues going back to the season (i.e. the "comments that rankled"), the kid would have done a true re-opening of his commitment much sooner and more conventionally. This really did have the appearances of a last minute swing that connected and resonated.

Again, I'm just playing the percentages and going by what I see and what I know. Unless the kid says "I had an issue with Kelly" none of us really know. But I think the indicators are that doesn't appear to be the case.

BigAggieSteve
BigAggieSteve

Funny, Sean uses the examples of crazed message board fan, and in the first comments here, crazed message board fan makes an appearance and says to gauge the importance of the recruiting by the reactions of other crazed message board fans.  Seriously, did you actually absorb the meaning of the article, or did the last statement, the one quoted in the response, drive out all comprehension to make room for the "righteous???" anger you felt at the perceived slight?  To Sean's point on this, ND has the national reputation to get recruits like this almost every year.  For UH, a recruit like this is a surprise and reason to celebrate (I guess).  National Signing Day has turned into a media circus, a self-feeding sports reporting buffet, in which other "reporters" consume and defecate the droppings of other "reporters".  It takes kids that already think they are walking Gods because of the adulation and entitlements they receive at high school and elevates them to a plane even higher, in which most of them will never achieve their true potential because they do not ever learn that it takes more than just talent to succeed at a level where everyone is as talented as you to some degree.  Fall of the Roman Empire Days are approaching, in this world where we celebrate modern day gladiators with enough vicious glee that fans think it is acceptable behavior to beat other people for simply rooting for the other team, where felons and convicts are forgiven their past sins, not because they are rehabilitated and truly contrite for their mistakes, but because they can throw or run a football better than 99% of the population. You, Craigley, are a high priest in this cult of athlete worship it would seem.  How does this supposed catastrophic loss of a superb athlete from ND to UH change your life? Does it change your income, forgive your debts, make you a different person?  I'm willing to bet that none of those things hinge on the level of recruits garnered at any University.  I suppose I am trying to say, grow up, stop using the level of athleticism at colleges that care more about your money than you as a person as a measuring stick of your own personal success, and for the love of all that is holy, use a little reading comprehension the next time.

Craigley
Craigley

And FWIW, Aggy should know best about squandering talent.  All those top rated Aggy clases over the year led to nothingness but adulation and entitlements from bowtie bozos.

You just sound bitter and burned, and I don't blame you.

Maybe things will get better now that Aggy has 1/2 the old UH staff.  

BigAggieSteve
BigAggieSteve

Thank you, Craigley, for proving all my points about you.  Can you think outside the school?  I can.  The college football team of the university I attended does not define me as a person.  Obviously, it is all you have.  I would not be surprised if you are just a tshirt fan.  For some reason, they seem more rabid than fans that attended the school.  More than likely, it is a compensation technique for short comings in personality, appendages, or life in general.

H_e_x
H_e_x

The irony is strong with this one.

Andrew P Wood
Andrew P Wood

"The college football team of the university I attended does not define me as a person."  says the guy with an A&M avatar and Aggie in his handle.  SMH

Craigley
Craigley

National Signing Day has turned into a media circus by design!  That was the plan my dear Goober.It's all Marketing 101.  And it keeps people like Sean with a job.

Sean Pendergast
Sean Pendergast

To be fair, I think I'd have a job without National Signing Day and without radio. I have many talents.

Craigley
Craigley

Honestly, this is a much bigger win for the Cougars than it is a loss for Notre Dame?Check out ND's message board to prove yourself wrong....

Why should is surprise anyone that a WR wants to come to Houston?

Houston throws the ball.  WR's catch the ball.  Perfect match. 

Sean Pendergast
Sean Pendergast

Craig -- All due respect, I'm not going to use the knee jerk reaction of a bunch of people on a message board as the gauge how big a loss this was for ND. I'm not saying it wasn't a loss for ND. Of course it was. But this was a monumental recruiting win for UH, that's all I was saying. The ripple effect is program changing; I hardly think you can say the same thing about ND losing the kid.

Pipez
Pipez

As a UH Alum, I agree Sean. This won't be the first or last time ND loses out on a highly ranked recruit (not that they didn't do the opposite with their QB recruit), but it is the first time in 2-3 decades UH has gotten a recruit this highly ranked (but not the first time ever).

But why wouldn't a receiver want to come to a team who just ranked in the top 25 with perennial top 10 offense. Levine knows he has to keep up with the offenses of Yeoman, Jenkins, Briles and Sumlin/Holgorsen, and thats his plan. This is the first class to come in knowing they will play in the Big East.

Michael
Michael

With all due respect, if I had a time machine I would go back to before I had read this blog post. Worthless. I learned nothing except that Sean Pendergast has something against the University of Houston. 

How will I sleep tonight? Like a baby. 

Sean Pendergast
Sean Pendergast

I'm not necessarily surprised he picked UH over ND, I am surprised that it happened as fast as it did. The kid obviously wants to play early and in an offense that will throw it. During the break in the show today, Coach Levine said big part of his pitch was "Someone's gonna get 100 catches, why not you?" Really like Coach Levine.

eddiethegeek
eddiethegeek

Great article - but you forgot this one, which (as an ND fan I was saying to myself alot yesterday):  "If a kid is that dumb to pass up much better football and educational opportunities elsewhere, then he ain't smart enough to play for us anyway!"

PumaFan
PumaFan

Much better football? in which planet have you been residing for the last few decades? It may come as a surprise to you but ND football has been irrelevant and it appears that it will remain that way. Additionally, the University of Houston is a Tier One University, look it up.  When given a choice, rational people might choose to live in the thriving 4th largest city in the US rather than ....Fort Bend.

LoveHouston
LoveHouston

You mispelled "a lot" Mr. Geek. So much for that ND education!

VMS
VMS

Notre Dame is a great instituition, but so is the University of Houston.  Maybe you're too much of an elitest to notice, but we've been pretty good for some time now.  You'll come off better if you stick to praising you're school instead of throwing stones at one you know nothing about.

Justin Mayberry
Justin Mayberry

The irony in your comment is fantastic. You must not have gotten the great "educational opportunities" about which you speak. "Alot" is two words.

cougar
cougar

 you and sean read aesop much?

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