“H-Town Takeover” has deep Fort Bend roots
By Michael Sudhalter
Fort Bend County might not have Division I college football until the year 2077 when both UH-Sugar Land and UH-Cinco Ranch make their debuts in the power conference known as “the Big 36.” or the “SEC Southwest.”
But until that mythical day descends upon us, the University of Houston is the closest thing Fort Bend has to a Division I program.
Cougars first-year head coach Tom Herman has placed an emphasis on the “H-Town Takeover” — keeping top-notch talent in Houston.
And Fort Bend has been a big part of that philosophy as 13 graduates of Fort Bend ISD schools are on the roster for UH, which travels to Atlanta to play Florida State in the Peach Bowl on Dec. 31.
Five of those 13 players are graduates of Hightower, one of the most consistently strong football programs in the district.
“It’s a blessing to get that many people from any school, and the five of us have been friends since we went to middle school together at Lake Olympia,” said UH sophomore safety Khalil Williams, a Hightower alum. “I felt obligated to stay at home and play for UH. Coach Herman’s program is what we needed — it’s been structured since he’s arrived.”
Hightower head coach Padriac McGinnis is proud of the fact that his former players are succeeding with UH and other collegiate programs.
“At Hightower, we don’t only promote football, but we promote education,” McGinnis said.
“We talk daily about the stats of how a college education will give you better opportunities in life. We also talk about how important it is to get a free education. We are proud of the five UH kids, but we are also proud all our kids who come through our program.”
There doesn’t seem to be an end in sight for the FBISD-to-UH pipeline as Bush cornerback Javian Smith and Ridge Point wide receiver Terry Petry have verbally committed to the Cougars.
“Now that we’re 12-1, everyone wants to be on a winning team,” Williams said.
UH associate head coach Craig Naivar has recruited the western side of Greater Houston — including Fort Bend — for nearly 20 years as an assistant for Rice, TCU and Texas State among others.
He said that Fort Bend has played an important part in the Cougars’ return to prominence, and recruiting there fits into the coaching staff’s philosophy.
“Greater Houston has the best talent in the state and the nation,” Naivar said. “As coaches, if we have to drive more than a tank of gas to recruit, we’ve probably gone too far.”
“Coach Herman sells his blueprint for success — the administration is putting money into the program and dedicated to building something special. Players want to be a part of it and have the opportunity to play in front of friends and family.”
One of the recent developments for UH is the fact that it is going head-to-head for recruits with Big 12 and SEC schools and watching them pick Houston.
The Cougars’ upcoming game is their biggest bowl game since 1984 when they lost 45-28 to Boston College and Heisman Trophy winner Doug Flutie in the Cotton Bowl.
But UH senior wide receiver Chance Allen is no stranger to facing big time opponents.
An Elkins graduate, Allen played for the University of Oregon in the Pac-12 Conference, catching passes from Marcus Mariota, the Tennessee Titans rookie quarterback and the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner and his best friend, current Oregon wide receiver Bralon Addison, a Hightower grad.
Allen moved back to Houston to take care of his mother, who became ill but has since recovered. “It’s fun to play alongside guys from your district,” said Allen, who plans to play in the NFL in two years.
In addition to facing Florida State, the Cougars will open the 2016 season against defending Big 12 Champion Oklahoma on Sept. 3 at NRG Stadium.
“The major conference teams put on the pads just like we do,” Allen said.
FORT BEND ISD ALUMS ON THE UH ROSTER
Khalil Williams, sophomore safety, Hightower graduate — has 17 tackles, an interception and five pass deflections this season.
Matthew Adams, sophomore linebacker, Hightower graduate — has 44 tackles and a sack this season.
Joeal Williams, redshirt freshman cornerback, Hightower graduate — has two tackles and a punt return for 12 years this season.
Davon Crookshank, freshman running back, Marshall graduate — he’s redshirting this season after originally committing to Wisconsin.
Josh Burrell, freshman running back, Ridge Point graduate — helped lead Ridge Point to a 12-1 record in 2014.
Chance Allen, junior wide receiver, Elkins graduate — the second-leading receiver on the team with 52 receptions for 693 yards and four touchdowns after transferring from Oregon.
Eric Parker, junior wide receiver, Hightower graduate — gives the Cougars depth at wide receiver.
Tyler White, senior cornerback, Marshall graduate — the Utah transfer finished with seven tackles this season.
Logan Piper, senior punter, Hightower graduate — the starting punter for the past two seasons, he’s punted for 2,293 yards for an average of 40.2 yards.
Leroy Godfrey, freshman linebacker, Elkins graduate — he’s redshirting after leading Elkins to an 9-2 record last season.
Carter Wall, senior offensive lineman, Travis graduate — After starring at Travis and Navarro Junior College, Wall has been a contributor on the Cougars’ O-Line.
Josh Jones, freshman offensive lineman, Bush graduate — Jones originally verbally committed to Oklahoma State after an excellent career at Bush
Melvin Holland, senior defensive lineman, Elkins graduate — a transfer from Navarro Junior College, he adds depth on the defensive line.