Houston Cougars football signing of Mikal Harrison-Pilot an example of Big 12 membership benefits

Houston Cougars football head coach Dana Holgorsen leads his team down the tunnel of TDECU Stadium ahead of the program’s game against Kansas. (Courtesy Houston Athletics)

Houston Cougars football signing of Mikal Harrison-Pilot an example of Big 12 membership benefits

The Houston Cougars football team made a big splash on Wednesday when it announced the signing of receiver Mikal Harrison-Pilot.

A four-star prospect on both 247 Sports and Rivals, the Temple High School kid is set to be one of the highest-rated players that have signed to the Houston Cougars program under head coach Dana Holgorsen.

For Houston, the signing of Harrison-Pilot is one example of how the program is already benefiting from its new Power Five affiliation.

“The University of Houston hasn’t landed kids like that very often,” said Holgorsen of Harrison-Pilot on a Wednesday afternoon Zoom call. “Obviously the Big 12 helped because he wants to play in the Big 12. That gave us a chance.”

Holgorsen and his staff have had an eye on Harrison-Pilot since the head coach first took the reins of the Cougars program in 2019, he said. UH loved Harrison-Pilot’s athleticism.

“The dude is freaky athletic,” Holgorsen said. “He’s got large hands, really good ball skills. Shoot there [are] people that recruited him on the defensive side of the ball because he can run and hit. I think he is just scratching the surface for what he can do as a receiver and obviously, that is what we pinpointed him as.”

When Holgorsen was in his first stint in Houston during the 2008 season, Harrison-Pilot’s father, Chris Pilot, was an outside linebacker for the Cougars. That familiarity with his dad helped Houston get in the door with Harrison-Pilot. The fact that UH is playing in the Big 12 was a factor that helped seal the deal.

When it comes to recruiting, Houston has always been in conversations with a lot of top talent such as Harrison-Pilot, Holgorsen said.

A lot of those guys in 2019 and 2020 would tell the coaching staff they liked the University of Houston; they liked the direction of the program, and they liked living in Houston, but there was always the one roadblock — not being in a Power Five Conference, Holgorsen stated.

“At the end of the day, most of them said ‘man love it, but I want to go play in the Big 12. I love it, but I want to go be a part of a Power Five program,’” Holgorsen said.

When athletes would tell Houston that, there wasn’t much Holgorsen could do, he said. Part of him agreed with them, he added.

“Man, I don’t blame you, so do I,” said Holgorsen is what his reactions would be sometimes.

Since Houston learned it was going to be joining the Big 12 in September 2021, the conversations have changed from the athletes’ perspective, Holgorsen said. The Cougars are still recruiting the same way, but they have that Power Five card in their back pocket, Holgorsen stated.

When it comes to Harrison-Pilot, Houston going to the Big 12 was huge. If the Cougars were still in the American Athletic Conference, it’s no guarantee that Harrison-Pilot opts to go to UH with schools like TCU, Cal and Texas in the mix as well.

“This was one that we landed that obviously feels good,” Holgorsen said. “It makes looking at that Big 12 schedule a little bit more manageable when you’re getting some four-star dudes that have a lot of options.”

Now with a tough task of a Power Five schedule ahead for the Cougars, Holgorsen knows that those type of signings are going to have to become more frequent and across different positions, especially in the trenches.

“It can’t just be at the receiver spot,” said Holgorsen when it comes to landing top talent. “We got some outstanding receivers. I mean kudos to Daikiel Shorts for just developing a relationship with these guys that makes them want to play here … that’s all fun. That’s kind of sexy, it’s the sexy position. We need to start landing some of those guys on the O-line and D-line.”

Related Posts:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *