Recruiting Spotlight: Isaiah Essissima

by Tim Hanna – Special to


Isaiah Essissima
2019 Cornerback | 5’11” 170 lbs
Hightower HS | Missouri City, Texas

The Coogs came into this signing day with a real need at cornerback. UH loses Nick Watkins, Isaiah Johnson, and Alex Myres in 2019 and had to find players to replace them. Which is why their recruiting pitch to Hightower DB Isaiah Essissima raised some eyebrows.
“U of H has some seniors leaving and they told me that they’re only looking to take one cornerback out of the 2019 class and they decided to pick me,” Essissima told in the summer.
How you replace three with one? UH has will have just two corners combined in the freshman and sophomore classes next year – Essissima and Johnathan Phenix. And there are only two safeties in those classes as well.
Major Applewhite believes the sport has changed enough that we need a dedicated coach at each of the two positions but he doesn’t seem to be recruiting DBs as a priority.

More on Essissima

Essissima participated in junior day at UH in February. He had a quiet spring before before picking up six offers in a five-day stretch during the May Evaluation Period. A couple of those are noteworthy: Nebraska and Iowa State offered on May 10 while Texas Tech offered on the 14th.
On June 1st, a quiet period began (quiet period means a coach cannot visit the student-athlete at home or on their HS campus. But the player and his parents can visit the university and each side can call/text/email). UH offered on June 3rd while Boise State did the same 4 days later.
In the span of 28 days, Essissima received 5 legit offers: the Huskers, Cyclones, Red Raiders, Broncos, and the Coogs. Vanderbilt would also make an offer and those schools would be his “final 6” that he announced on July 30.

At a pep rally at Hightower on September 7th, Essissima committed to the Cougars.
“Staying at home in Houston is good so my parents can come see me … there’s endless opportunities in Houston,” the senior said. “Why leave when I want to live here for the rest of my life?”
Essissima is the first Hightower HS player to sign with UH since Major came here in January 2015.

Why I like Essissima

1. Had a 102-yard pick-six vs Friendswood that looked exactly like Gleason Sprewell against Memphis. He locks onto the QBs eyes, sees he’s going jump the route, secures the ball and takes it to the house.

The kid has vision too. Multiple times, he’s looking back to the ball trying to make a play.
2. Looks like he has a solid tackling technique. Always hard to tell from highlights but I’m not seeing too many one-armed tackles.
3. His offer list is one of the best on our board. UH beat out Texas Tech, Nebraska, Boise, Iowa State, UNT, Vandy & Tulane. Also visited Florida and camped at Texas A&M.
4. His speed. He’s at 4.4 in the 40 and likely to get faster with college-level training. He’s going to run track again in the spring, this kid has a good chance to be the next stud CB for 3-4 years on Cullen blvd.
5. Essissima also returned some kicks in 2018. Who wouldn’t want a 4.4 taking the rock and cutting up field?
6. Seems a bit raw in man coverage but I think he can hang. In zone, he seems not as fluid. Wide open throws he can make a play on.
7. Kids got some attitude. Plenty of time he’s making a big hit or tossing a WR down and still standing. Think Tyrann Mathieu in college.


A Few Notes of Interest About Essissima

  • Hudl time has him at 4.47 in the 40;
  • Ran a wind-aided 11.18 in the 100M in March;
  • And ran a 22.17 in 200M;
  • Top 140 overall CB in the nation;
  • Top 175 in state of Texas;
  • Ranked #18 CB in state of Texas via Lone Star Prospects;
  • 3 year Varsity letterman;
  • Part of a 3-4 Defense;
  • Hightower went 3-8 in 2018 thanks to two forfeits;
  • The forfeited games (Foster & Angleton) were for using illegal technology in 6 out of the 7 conference games. All over using an iPad;
  • Up for the DCTF Whataburger Super Team, Kelan Walker made it last year.

Thanks to GoCoogs Insider subscriber Tim Hanna for this profile.

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