By Bill McCaughey
For The Fort Bend Star
Applewhite had been the Cougars’ offensive coordinator the previous two years.
“Major Applewhite far exceeded our criteria for our head coach,” Hunter Yurachek, Vice President of Athletics, said. “Major understands that he is here for our players, to make them better students, better athletes and better men.”
“My family and I are excited to have the opportunity to lead such a tradition rich program,” Applewhite said. “Houston is a winning program, a winning university and a winning city.”
Applewhite will take over immediately, and coach the Cougars in the Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 17.
“I am very excited for him,” UH Captain Greg Ward Jr said. “I know he will be a great head coach. He will always be honest with you, and he is going to get the most out of you every day.”
“He is one of the most competitive dudes I have ever been around,” UH Captain Cameron Malveaux said.
In 2016, the Cougars’ passing offense was ranked 15th in the nation, and the scoring offense was ranked 21st in the nation. From 2015 to 2016, the Cougars set a school record with 22 wins.
“His energy and creativity are responsible for one of the most explosive passing games in college football and I am confident that as our head coach he will continue our upward trajectory as a nationally relevant athletics program.” UH President Renu Khator said.
“Major Applewhite is a huge reason we’ve won 22 games in the last two seasons and I’m excited that he’s our head coach. He has demonstrated success on the field and on the sideline throughout his career,” University of Houston System Board of Regents Chairman Tilman Fertitta said. “He knows we are positioned to compete for championships and I’m confident we’ll continue our success under his leadership.”
Applewhite attended the University of Texas – Austin where he was Big 12 offensive player of the year in 1999. He then served as an assistant coach at Syracuse, Rice and Alabama, where he was offensive coordinator. In 2007, Applewhite returned to Texas for seven years, including his last four years as offensive coordinator. He then joined Tom Herman at the University of Houston as offensive coordinator.
Oliver voted nation’s best lineman
University of Houston freshman Ed Oliver has been named the winner of the 2016 Bill Willis Award which is presented annually to the nation’s top defensive lineman.
The Bill Willis Award is named for the late Hall of Famer Bill Willis. Willis broke the color barrier for both college football, at Ohio State, and pro football with the Cleveland Browns. The award is presented annually to college football’s top defensive lineman. Oliver is the first freshman to win the award.
In addition, Oliver has been named Rookie of the Year by the American Athletic Conference. He was one of only two unanimous picks to the conference’s all-conference team. He finished the regular season second in the conference and ninth nationally with 19.5 tackles for loss, and led all defensive linemen nationally with nine pass breakups. He finished the year fourth nationally among all defensive linemen with 43 solo tackles and was 16th among all defensive linemen nationally with 61 total tackles.
Oliver was also named a First Team All-American on The Sporting News All-American Team, the USA Today’s First Team, and Sports Illustrated’s All-American Team. Oliver was the only freshman on each of The Sporting News’ All-American Team, the USA Today’s All-America Team and Sports Illustrated’s All-American team.
Linebacker Steven Taylor and cornerback Howard Wilson were voted to the first team, and quarterback Greg Ward Jr., linebacker Tyus Bowser, cornerback Brandon Wilson and safety Garrett Davis were elected to the American Athletic Conferences’ second team. Wide receiver Linell Bonner received honorable mention honors.
Taylor received all-conference honors for the second straight year, earning second team honors in 2015. Taylor led Houston with 72 stops in the 11 games he played in and was second on the team with 11 tackles for loss, resulting in a loss of 77 yards. Howard Wilson picked off five passes this season to rank second in the conference and eighth nationally. Wilson also broke up nine passes, ranking fourth in the conference and he had 49 tackles on the year including two for a loss of 16 yards and he also recovered two fumbles. Wilson also returned one of his five interceptions 28 yards for a touchdown at Cincinnati.
Ward earned second team honors for the second straight year after leading the conference in passing with 3,328 yards despite missing Houston’s second game of the year vs. Lamar. Ward also led the conference in total offense with an average of 349.6 yards per game. He was third in the conference with 22 passing touchdowns and seventh with nine rushing touchdowns. He finished the year as the only player nationally to average over 300 yards passing (302.5) and over 40 yards rushing (47.1) per game. Over the last two seasons he ranks third nationally with 13 games with both passing and rushing touchdowns in the same game.
Bowser ranked fourth in the conference with 7.5 sacks, part of a 10.5 tackles for loss that were 13th in the conference. Bowser led Houston with nine quarterback hurries to go along with 40 tackles, three pass breakups and one forced fumble. Brandon Wilson had 42 tackles on the year including four for loss and two sacks. He broke up five passes and recorded a key interception in Houston’s win over UCF while also forcing a fumble on the year. He also returned 17 kicks for 401 yards and returned a missed field goal 100 yards for a pivotal touchdown in Houston’s win over then-No. 3 Oklahoma