The Houston Cougars, trying to improve after a 7-5 season and wanting to take advantage of star defensive tackle Ed Oliver's final season, have added six immediately transfers from Power Five conference schools this offseason.
The latest announcement came Thursday when Notre Dame cornerback Nick Watkins declared he would join Houston as a graduate transfer. He made 29 tackles and broke up eight passes last season, starting the first nine games.
The Cougars return starting cornerback Alexander Myres and part-time starting corner Isaiah Johnson.
Houston's secondary already projects to start a Power Five transfer -- Ole Miss safety Deontay Anderson. He is eligible right away as a sophomore because the NCAA waived the usual one-year waiting period due to sanctions against the Rebels program.
Anderson, who redshirted last season before his transfer, made 32 tackles as a true freshman in 2016.
Houston also added these graduate transfers: Tennessee quarterback Quinten Dormady, Baylor running back Terence Williams, Utah receiver Raelon Singleton and Miami linebacker Darrion Owens.
Dormady played in six games last season for the Volunteers, completing 76 of 137 passes for 925 yards, with six touchdowns and six interceptions. He will compete with D'Eriq King, who started the final four games of last season for Houston, although the Cougars are getting a fresh start under the up-tempo, spread attack of new coordinator Kendal Briles.
Briles was the offensive coordinator at Baylor in 2016, when Williams ran for 1,048 yards. He missed three games due to injury last season and dropped off to 255 yards on 73 carries. Plenty of playing time appears available for Williams this season as Houston's 2017 leading rusher, Duke Catalon, left the team before spring practice.
It's a similar story of opportunity for Singleton, who joins an offense in which the leading returning receiver made just 13 catches last season. Singleton was a two-year starter at Utah, catching 36 passes for 531 yards and four touchdowns last season. He ended his Utah career with 69 career receptions for 995 yards.
Owens made 35 tackles for Miami last season, including nine in an Orange Bowl loss to Wisconsin. He had 79 tackles, including 7.5 for loss, in his Hurricanes career.
Houston, in its second season under coach Major Applewhite, was picked to finish second behind Memphis in the American Athletic Conference West Division by Lindy's College Football Annuals. The Cougars are led by Oliver, who, in an early projection by NFLDraftScout.com's Dane Brugler, is the No. 1 prospect for the 2019 NFL Draft. The junior already has announced he will turn pro after this season.
Before hitting conference play, the Cougars will have Power Five tests against visiting Arizona (former Cougars coach Kevin Sumlin returns to Houston with star quarterback Khalil Tate) and at Texas Tech.